Dhaka’s eye-catching and pride, the Hatirjheel lake, is suffocating to death as it has gradually lost its beauty, except for the nightly multi-coloured lights, with its water turning into a deadly open waste disposal ground in the heart of capital crammed with more than 18 million people.
Apparently, all is not lost like the Buriganga river.Recently, Rajdhani Unnayan Kartipokkha (RAJUK), the state-owned city planner, has undertaken a Tk 49 crore project named ‘Hatirjheel Lake Water Treatment Project’ to purify the water body, its officials told the daily sun.
Solid waste, human excretion, water bottles, napkins, plastic and such other materials are floating in the dark and smelling water of Hatirjheel which was opened to public during the initial days of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s second term in office in 2009. She launched the Hatirjheel-Begunbari integrated development project on 2 January 2013. The project spreads over 302 acres and have facilitated connectivity between eastern and western Dhaka, which has 23,234 people per square kilometer within a total area of 300 square kilometers.
Since the opening, Hatirjheel has drawn huge visitors and become one of the gathering hubs for the city people, especially on the weekend and festivals.
Built under the supervision of the Special Works Division of the army’s Corps of Engineers, it became not only the most popular place for outings, but also a pride of this bustling city’s resident. It also gave a message to the Dhaka fathers that what they could do with similar places in and outside Dhaka.
Even Foreign tourists were taken by guides to enjoy the beauty of Hatirjheel, enjoy typical food at eateries and a boat ride. But the foul smell of waste and polluted water is driving away people from the area.
The government invested a sizeable amount of money to beautify the lake, but water pollution has remained a major concern due to non-stop drainage of solid waste as well as rotten household bins and other garbage from different areas into the lake.Visitors and residents living around the project area are deeply frustrated as the water of Hatirjheel lake is spreading strong stench which forces people to cover their nose with handkerchiefs.
Beside, solid wastes with rainwater washing dirty areas and street also enter the Hatirjheel through various points to add to the pollution. Despite warnings, many visitors dump empty beverage bottles, polythene bags, food stuff and paper into the lake.
However, project officials blamed mainly the 13 sewerage lines around the lake for water pollution. Those lines allow the sewerage water to enter the lake from – Moghbazar, Begunbari, Modhubagh, Niketon, Rampura, Badda, Tejgaon, Mohakhali, Panthapath, Kawranbazar and Kathalbagan – which pollutes the lake water.
This correspondent witnessed on Tuesday how wastes floated in the darkened Hatirjheel water which itself is crying for life. Though waste bins have been placed across the project visitors ignore those and dump waste across the project area.
It was also seen that the lake water from the rear side of the famed Sonargaon Hotel to the Film Decvelopment Corporation (FDC) is pitch black and piles of garbage lay on the banks of the lake.
Sources said that industrial wastes from some industries in the adjacent Tajgaon area ended up in the lake through the drains beside sewage water.
Hassan Suvro, a water taxi passenger coming to FDC Ghat from Gudaraghat, said “Occasionally I used water taxi service. But we are suffering due to bad odor of the water.”
Residents said during the rainy season, the Hatirjheel canal is mainly polluted as sewage mixes with storm water before ending up in the lake.
Moazzem Hossain, a resident of Mogbazar area, said “People in their droves started thronging here in the afternoon to have a respite from the monotonous routine life. But the lake started losing its appeal to people due to bad condition of the water”.
Shariful Islam, who came to visit Hatirjheel, said he came here in the lake for fresh air. “Nowadays I am hesitant to come necause of the foul smell of the water,” he added.
The RAJUK send the pitch black water testing to Japan and Australia.
The laboratory reports said presently Hatirjheel water pollution had reached an ‘unacceptable’ level or deadly for life and it was not conducive to biodiversity and could harm the ecological balance.
According to the remediation action plan, high capacity compressor and diffuser will be installed in the Lake bed to bring dissolving oxygen (DO) in water at tolerable level through continuous aeration. Besides, coagulant and flocculant will be sprayed as quick sediments to clear water.
At the same time, quality of water will be improved through biological treatment and a sediment basin will be created at the Special Sewer Diversion Structure (SSDS)-1 (behind Hotel Sonargaon) to protect the lake from contamination of sledges heading to the lake from Panthapath box culvert.
RAJUK Chief Engineer and Hatirjheel Project Director ASM Raihanul Ferdous told the daily sun that a project has been taken to stop the lake’s water pollution.
He said the Australian High Capacity Air Compressor would be set up to decontaminate the water of the lake, besides modern technology and installation of pipelines on both sides of the lake would solve the problem permamnetly.