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Growing pollution puts Surma at edge

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UNB report
The Surma River, one of the country’s major freshwater sources, is being polluted alarmingly as the household wastes of the entire Sylhet city are flowing into it due to lack of an effective waste management system.
During his recent visit, the correspondent found that many canals and streams across the Sylhet city are carrying water polluted by wastes to the Surma River, leading to the deterioration in its water quality.
Although the city is located at a beautiful natural set-up, there is no proper waste management system at its disposal. The city dwellers are directly dumping their household wastes into the cannels and streams that finally flow into the beautiful river.
The natural channels are responsible for surface runoff from its urban catchments to the receiving Surma.
“Household wastes are being thrown into the Surma River. If this trend continues, the river will get severely polluted in the next five years,” said Sylhet city mayor Ariful Haque Chowdhury.
Besides, the poor planning of the city’s drainage system, discharge of industrial units in the area has also been a major reason for the river pollution.
A study carried out in 2010 revealed that the water quality of the streams in the area is far from the standards, polluting the river water to a great extent.
The main reason behind the deterioration in the water quality was found out to be the direct connection of the sewerage network of the city with the streams.
Mayor Ariful Haque Chowdhury said the city corporation in its budget for the current fiscal has allocated Tk 3 core to conduct a feasibility study for a project to put in place a proper waste management system in the city.
“I personally talked to Prof Jamilur Reza Chowdhury, an eminent urban planner, to know the possible cost of the project, which will bring the Sylhet city under a proper sewerage network. He informed me that about Tk 4,000-5,000 crore will be required to implement the project,” the mayor said.
Acting chief engineer of the city corporation Azizur Rahman said they are planning to create water reservoirs on the upstream of city cannels and streams to avoid siltation.
“Now the city corporation is not providing sewerage facility to the city dwellers. So, they are dumping their household wastes into canals which finally go into the Surma River,” Azizur said.
He said the city corporation is chalking out a number of projects, including sewerage network installation project and water treatment plant, to provide civic amenities to the city dwellers and protect the Surma River from pollution.
If the projects are implemented properly, Sylhet will be the first planned city of Bangladesh, he claimed.