Unending encroachment and pollution of Sitalakhya River has not only changed its physical feature but also forced much of its fish and aquatic into disappearance.
Major portions of both banks of the 110-kilometre river, which flows through Narsigndi, Gazipur and Narayanganj districts and falls into Dhaleswari River in Munshiganj district, has been brought under industrialisation over the years.
Hundreds of large, medium and small industries, including a urea fertilizer factory, thermal power plant, textiles and dyeing factories have been set up along the river from Ghorashal to Munshiganj through encroachment and they are now contributing to heavily polluting the river.
Renowned factories like Ghorashal Fertiliser factory and ACI factory are a major
source of incessant pollution of the river.
‘We used to swim and take a dip in the river at least once in a day. But for the last 10 years this has become impossible because of polluted water,’ said Monir Hossain, a local farmer of Rupganj.
A 55-year-old local resident said that in his early life he saw a vibrant Sitalakhya River free from pollution. But now the river, he said, has turned into a cesspit.
During a recent visit to the river it was found that the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha had encroached upon a large portion of the river near Kanchon Bridge for developing its Purbachal New Town and even its project office has been constructed on its bank.
The Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority has constructed 15.60 kilometers of walkway on the western part of the river from Kanchpur Bridge to Tanbajar in Narayanganj to keep the bank free from further encroachment.
But the encroachers have encroached upon a vast area under the Kanchpur Bridge for the sand and stone trade and the eastern part of the river in Narayanganj is still under occupation of hundreds of encroachers, including some big factories and dockyards.
Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon joint secretary Sharif Jamil told New Age the authorities were supposed to demarcate the river following the cadastral survey but the boundary pillars were installed following the revisional survey maps.
He said the government had legalised most of the encroachers of Sitalakhya River by installing the boundary pillars in wrong places.
Jamil said the encroachers grabbed the river bank bit by bit over the years and they were responsible for the pollution of the river as most of them were discharging toxic liquid waste into the river through submerged pipes.
Barisal University vice chancellor and soil, water and environment science expert professor SM Imamul Huq told New Age the aquatic life or biological environment inside Sitalakhya is yet to die.
‘But this river is also extremely polluted and we have to start work right now to save it,’ he said.
The Department of Environment collects samples from Sitalakhya river’s three different locations – Demra ghat, Ghorashal Fertiliser Factory at Narsingdi and ACI Factory at Narayanganj to prepare its River Water Quality Report.
The reports show during the period of 2002-2006 the level of Dissolved Oxygen was not fit for living beings at any sample area.
DO was missing at Demra ghat from January to March and the DO has been very low at the ACI factory from February to April since 2010.
The level of Biochemical Oxygen Demand in river Sitalakhya has been very high at Demra ghat and ACI factory points during the dry season since 2010 when the BOD level started to increase and DO level started to deteriorate, the reports show.
On March 18, 2015 the BOD level was 17 at Demra when a standard level of BOD is less than or equal to 6mg/l for fisheries to survive.
DoE director (monitoring and enforcement) AKM Mizanur Rahman said they were regularly sending notice to the industry owners and realised fines from factories that dumped waste in the river.
BIWTA chairman Commodore Mohammad Mozammel Haque said they were continuing to evict illegal structures from the river banks.
Source: New Age