Waves of waste wash up on Cox’s Bazar beach

Dhaka Tribune

 July 13th, 2020

Local administration begins cleaning up the garbage spread on the beach between Kolatoli’s Valley Hatchery point and Darianagar point of Himchhari

Gigantic heaps of garbage have washed up on the sandy beach of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, surprisingly at a time when the country’s prime tourist destination remains closed for over three months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The garbage, which reportedly washed up along with the waves from Saturday night till the end of Sunday, include rubbish like plastic, electronic waste, nylon fishing nets, and empty liquor bottles.

The rubbish covers the stretch of beach between Kolatoli’s Valley Hatchery point to Darianagar point of Himchhari. A number of marine wildlife, both dead and alive, were also found amid the garbage.

“I saw the garbage after I came to the beach for a walk. It covered almost 1km stretch of the beach. There was no condition to walk on the beach and a strong stench was coming from the waste. I think some unscrupulous hotel owners had dumped the garbage into the sea, hoping it would go away,” Rashed Ripon, a resident of Kolatoli area, told Dhaka Tribune.

The local administration and environment offices have begun cleaning up the garbage.

Md Nazmul Huda, deputy director at the Department of Environment’s Cox’s Bazar office, said they had begun the clean-up at 10am on Monday, with the help of the district administration.

“It may take a couple of days to remove all of the garbage,” he said on Monday.

Nazmul said he had visited the site where the garbage had washed up.

“Several dead sea turtles were also found entangled with the waste on the beach. I suspect that this garbage was disposed from fishing trawlers, and if so, then the garbage will naturally come towards the shore,” he added.

Workers of Cox’s Bazar district administration bag piles of rubbish that washed up on the beach, during a clean-up drive on Monday, July 13, 2020 | Dhaka Tribune

Environmentalists and locals have expressed concern over the situation, fearing great damage to the environment of the beach.

ANM Moazzam Hossain, chairman of environment conservation organization Save the Nature, said: “I have visited the site after hearing the news. We do not know how the waste ended up on the beach, but this garbage might cause an environmental disaster and harm marine life and their ecosystem if not removed quickly.”

Deepak Sharma Dipu, president of Cox’s Bazar Environmental Journalists Forum, accused hotel-motel owners in the Kolatoli area of dumping their wastes directly into the sea, and taking the advantage of the near-empty tourist town to dump more waste.

He also demanded finding out those responsible for dumping and bringing them to justice.

The district administration formed a five-member committee on Sunday night to investigate the matter, Cox’s Bazar Deputy Commissioner Kamal Hossain told Dhaka Tribune on Monday.

He said a team of the district administration, led by an executive magistrate, had visited the affected site on Sunday evening.

“About 10km of the beach is covered with plastic waste, torn fishing net and rope. There are remains of sea turtles and other marine life mixed up with the garbage as well,” he added.

He said they were suspecting the animals might have been died due to the waste.

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