Hatirjheel is among the top hangout destinations in Dhaka, but recently the stench from the lake water, laced with sewage and waste from the Karwan Bazar fish market, is enough to ruin someone’s day out.
The wastewater is supposed to flow to the water treatment plant through the sewers, but that hasn’t been happening. Sewage finds its way to the lake through the storm sewers of the city corporation and Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority.
RAJUK, the development authority for the capital, says the pollution is so high that a machine set up to refine the water of the lake is not functioning properly. The smell is bothering residents living nearby and those who cross Hatirjheel by boat.
The water is green and cleaner in Rampura, Gulshan and Mahanagar Project. But it is dark and smells foul in Madhubagh, FDC, Dilu Road and Sonargaon Hotel.
Akram Hossain of Biam Goli in Eskaton runs a makeshift shop in the area where the demolished BGMEA Bhaban was situated. The stench persists throughout the year, he said.
“Rain improves the situation, but it hasn’t rained too much this year. So, the water smells fouler.”
Ahmed Hossain, a resident of Badda whose office is in Karwan Bazar, commutes by boat across the lake. “The journey takes less time and is no hassle. But the horrific smell makes my stomach turn.”
WHY DOES THE WATER SMELL BAD?
The rainwater in Dhaka first flows into the city corporation's drain, then to the river, canal or lake through the drainage channel of the Dhaka Water Supply and Sewage Authority or WASA.
However, household and human waste is supposed to go to the refinery via the WASA sewage line.
However, since most areas of the capital do not have sewage lines, sewage is often connected to water drainage lines.
Although only rainwater is supposed to enter Hatirjheel lake, this waste is flowing into the lake through the drainage line.
According to RAJUK, the rainwater of some areas, including Tejgaon, Mohakhali, Panthapath, Karwan Bazar, Kathalbagan, Madhubagh, and Gulshan's Niketon flows into the lake through 11 points. The Special Sewerage Diversion Structure, or SSDS, has been constructed at these points in Hatirjheel to reroute the rainwater and sewerage line.
RAJUK says that most of the water comes through the box culvert behind the Sonargaon hotel from Panthapath. The Hathijheel lake water is largely polluted by this box culvert. Apart from this, the water coming from Karwan Bazar, Dilu Road, the front of FDC, and Madhubagh also has a bad odour.
Two lines have been laid on both sides of the Hatirjheel project so that the sewage effluence does not fall into the lake. Two pipes of six feet in diameter are installed in each line. One line runs from the rear of Sonargaon Hotel to Rampura via Dilu Road, Madhubagh, and the Mahanagar Project, while the other runs from Niketon to Rampura via Police Plaza in Gulshan. Sewage connections from different areas are supposed to go through Rampura to WASA’s Dasherkandi Sewage Treatment Plant (DSTP) through these two pipelines.
However, the refinery at Dasherkandi is not yet operational and, as a result, sewage is flowing into Hatirjheel.
“Although the pipeline has been constructed under the Hatirjheel project, Dasherkandi has not been connected yet. So dirty water also flows into the rainwater drains,” said Shamsuddin Ahmed Chowdhury, a RAJUK official.
“Water also comes from the Karwan Bazar area. This includes water from the fish storehouse, which adds to the bad smell.”
“When it was designed, it wasn't supposed to get that much sewage or stormwater. Too much unrefined water is being released into the lake and more foul-smelling water is coming through box culverts,” Shamsuddin added.
“Representatives of WASA and the city corporation also acknowledged that excess water mixed with sewage from the sewage lines and stormwater lines flows to Hatirjheel,” Shamsuddin said after a meeting on the Hatirjheel development project on Thursday.
“The meeting discussed what should be done to solve the problem, and who was responsible for what. WASA has been asked to see to their duties.”
Dhaka WASA Chief Engineer Kamrul Hasan told bdnews24.com on Thursday that the Dasherkandi sewage treatment plant has been built to treat water in Dhaka city. The refinery is currently working on a basis. Once officially launched, water from all areas will be taken there and no more water will go to Hatirjheel.
He expects that the refinery could be operational within three months.
“Many homeowners have illegally connected sewage waste lines to water drainage drains. The Dhaka North City Corporation is working to block them and will start a drive against them in the capital's elite areas from Sept 1,” DNCC Mayor Atiqul Islam said.
“We have already asked homeowners in Gulshan, Banani, and Baridhara to construct soak wells and septic tanks. We will go on a drive in those areas from Sept 1 and will fine those who have not followed the order. Other areas of the capital will eventually be covered by this operation.”
[Writing in English by Arshi Fatiha Quazi]