Due to poor management of basic urban and environmental issues, Capital Dhaka is going to face greater environmental hazards very soon, warned experts.
The experts said the capital has mostly remained ungoverned even though the city has five rivers surrounding it.
The five rivers are Balu and Sitalakhya on the east, Turag and Buriganga on the west and Dhaleshwari on the south.
The experts opined that small urban rivers help a city in many ways, for example providing support for waterways, flushing out rainwater and offering recreational facilities and economic benefits etc.
But Dhaka has long been only polluting these rivers and thereby the entire environment, they said.
They suggested the city must be devolved with proper plan alongside taking effective steps to check all forms of pollution to turn it into a clean and healthy city yet again.
They said, although Annisul Huq, late mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), could not complete his tasks, he showed the way how effectively Dhaka can be made a liveable city.
According to them, he (Annisul Huq) took various initiatives to remove illegally installed billboards and illegal vehicle parking, modernise footpaths, restore discipline in transport management, drainage and waste management system, check pollution, protect the environment, increase greeneries and set up modern public toilets.
The experts said Dhaka city has long been branded as the least liveable city by different local and international bodies due to unabated pollution and unplanned expansion.
They said even though Rajuk has worked out many plans and steps to build the city in a planned way, most of those were not implemented.
They further said the city is facing various problems for lack of good governance, proper monitoring and maintenance by the authorities concerned. The situation is getting worse amid its population boom.
However, they underscored right plans, their proper implementation and proper maintenance, enforcement of law and good governance to turn Dhaka into a habitable city.
They lamented by saying that though Dhaka has repeatedly been ranked as one of the least liveable cities in the world, no substantial effort has been made visibly to improve the situation.
They blamed bad planning, lack of coordination among different government ministries, departments and agencies, non-enforcement of laws, lack of sincerity of the government are the main reasons behind turning Dhaka into an unhealthy and chaotic city.
Besides, they said, most canals, water bodies, rivers and lowlands were grabbed destroying the natural water drainage system. “Most of the rivers are badly polluted by different industrial and household wastes. The government couldn’t ensure pure and safe water for city dwellers. Crores of litters of water are being boiled for purification by burning huge gas every day. Many buildings have been constructed without making proper designs defying the building code. These things are making the city unworthy of living.”
Moreover, Dhaka’s air is highly polluted mainly due to brick kilns, unfit vehicles and unusual growth of dust from construction works, rundown roads which is taking heavy toll on the public health.
The environment experts expressed grief over the fact that the Environment Ministry has miserably failed to play any effective role in dealing with the alarming incidents of pollution and enforcing the existing laws.
Abdul Matin said, “All kinds of pollution are continuously growing in the city. Air pollution used to take nearly 8,000 lives a year just three years back, now it causes the death to 84,000 people every year.”
Water and soil quality of the city is also degrading due to unplanned urbanisation and Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority’s (Wasa’s) poor performance and negligence. “Many areas of the capital are still out of drinkable water supply, sanitation, and proper waste management.”
The two Dhaka city corporations and different government bodies also could not play any effective role in checking noise and sound pollution, keeping the city properly clean, controlling traffic jams and visual pollution, maintaining parks, increasing greeneries, saving the rivers and ensuring better transport service.
Director General of the Directorate General Health service (DGHS) Prof Abul Kalam Azad said Dhaka city is facing serious air pollution which is contributing to rising various diseases like lung problems, cancer, respiratory problems. “Even, people are not getting healthy food and safe water.”
Contacted, Environment and Forests Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud said they are working out effective steps to reduce pollution. “We’ll soon procure machines to check pollution by vehicles. We’ll intensify our drives and monitoring to significantly cut pollution by brick kilns and various industries and factories.”
The minister said they will hold a meeting with law enforcers to diminish sound pollution by strictly enforcing law.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said law enforcers cannot ease traffic jam notably as the number of vehicles is much higher than the road capacity.
About sound pollution by vehicles, he said they give traffic police a strong direction to control such pollution.