Enayet Karim with Ayub Ali: The Karnaphuli, the prime river of the business capital and the port city of the country is polluting by liquid and toxic waste throw pipe and sewerage. Most of industries have no waste treatment plant, as a result, they through almost 350 metric tons of toxic waste to the Karnaphuli every day. Biodiversity in the river is on highest risk while the ecology of the city is also under threat.
River Karnaphuli, the lifeline of country’s economy, is being polluted rampantly due to unabated dumping of toxic chemicals and solid wastes into the water from the riverside industrial units in Chattogram. As a result, the life of Karnaphuli as well as the future of Chittagong port is at risk due to the pollution. The locals and environment activists were demanding to save the river from pollution for long time.
Meanwhile, following a directive of the higher authority Department of Environment is taking step to save the river from rampant pollution recently. Sources said, now, the authority has taken measures to make the river Karnaphuli pollution free. The Department of Environment is conducting raids on the river Karnaphuli and taking action against the organizations who are involved with pollution of Karnaphuli.
Land Minister Saifuzzaman Chowdhury Javed demanded to compel the industries to set up garbage management plant in every industry to resist the pollution of river Karnaphuli. In a question he said without saving Karnaphuli from pollution and occupation country’s economy and Chittagong port could not be saved. Without saving Halda, the sweet water in Chittagong and brooding of fishes will be hampered.”
He said, “River Karnaphuli is the life line of the country’s economy. Chittagong port, the prime sea port of the country is situated on the river mouth of Karnaphuli. So, without saving the Karnaphuli, the port will not be saved.”
Environmentalists observed that industrial waste from 720 categories of different industrial units that stretches from its estuary at Chandra Ghona in Kaptai and multiplied by kitchen stuffs, discharged by the 50 lakh people of the port city are directly dumped into the river.
Besides, in April in 2013, HC ordered them to take necessary measures to stop all activities of grabbing, filling and building any sort of establishment within the river’s area within the next three months. The bench of justices AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury and Sheikh Mohammed Zakir Hossain gave the orders in response to a writ petition by Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (HRPB). According to the Department of Environment, more than 350 metric tons of toxic wastes are being drained to the river Karnaphuli a day.
Pollution of the river has not only degraded the water quality to a large extent but also destroyed the habitats of the water bodies. Besides, the rampant occupation of banks and shoals in the river Karnaphuli hampered the navigational channel of the river, expert opined.
Sources said, the industries which discharge toxic waste into the marine water include 20 tanneries, 28 textiles, one oil refinery, a Triple Super Phosphate (TSP) fertilizer plant, two chemical industries, five fisheries processing units, five pesticide industries, four dying factories, Karnaphuli Urea Fertilizer factory (KAFCO), Chittagong Urea Fertilizer Ltd (CUFL), Asphalt Bitumen plant, four cement factories, Karnaphuli Paper Mills and Karnaphuli Rayon Mills.
According to the sources, even 1.5 lakh liter of crude waste from the tannery industries and 35 tons of China clay, four tons of fibers from KPM and Karnaphuli Rayon Mills are dumped into the river and directly fall into the coastal and marine water every day.
The experts of Marine Science Institute of Chittagong University estimated that fertilizer factories on the river alone had dumped 145 cubic meter of pollutants an hour, 35 metric tons of China clay, 4 metric tons of cellulose and sodium hydroxide a day while the tannery industries flushes more than 100 metric tons of dangerous pollutants in the river a week.
The 667 meter Karnaphuli river is the largest and most important river in Chittagong and the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Originating from the Saithah village of Mamit district in Mizoram, India, it flows 270 kilometres southwest through Chittagong Hill Tracts and Chittagong into the Bay of Bengal. It is said to “represent the drainage system of the whole south-western part of Mizoram. Principal tributaries include the Kawrpui River or Thega River, Tuichawng River and Phairuang River. A large hydroelectric power plant using Karnaphuli river was built in the Kaptai region during the 1960s.
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