Vol. 4 Num 213 Wed. December 31, 2003  
Star City

Dirt, waste choke Dhanmondi Lake

Dhanmondi Lake has become a contaminated site loaded with waste from hospitals and clinics and sewage from surface drains that are directly linked to its stagnant water.

The authorities are blamed for their laid-back attitude to the lake that needs regular cleanups to purify the water for survival of fish and weeds.

Star City sent for test a sample of lake water to the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B). The results show the level of free carbon dioxide at 2.91, up from the standard level of 0.6 and conductivity at 259 MicroS/cm, down from the acceptable limit between 800 and 1,000 MicroS/cm for fishing water.

"High concentration of free carbon dioxide is harmful not only to fish but to flora and fauna as well. It also increases health hazards and gradually pollutes the entire area," said an environmental microbiologist of ICDDR,B.

A number of private sewers are directly connected to the lake, linking road Nos. 11/A, 3/A and 27 and at least 25 surface drains release impure water into the lake water.

"The original plan emphasised the removal of surface drains, linked to the lake and installation of external drainage," said Iqbal Habib, member of Dhanmondi Lake Management Committee (DLMC) and a lake project consultant.

Mushrooming hospitals, diagnostic centres and housing firms dump waste into the lake under the cover of dark, alleged Shamsul Alam, in charge of security.

The site is running without toilet facilities encouraging visitors and vendors to use the lake, a place for thousands of people a day.

The project also planned to install a water treatment plant or pump-house, but Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) and the management committee have not yet structured it.

"The committee is not active. Only two meetings were held in the last two and a half years, while a monthly meeting was to take place," Iqbal said.

Although the construction of the lake development project was complete about two years ago, the DCC could not take control of it yet.

Some hoodlums and local ward commissioners are into illegal pisciculture and blamed for water pollution as they throw fish feed in.

"They supplied different species of fish including nylotica which harms the lake the most as it digs up the bed of water-bodies," Iqbal said, adding the lakebed loses its capacity of absorbing dirt and other water pollutants.

He underscored immediate implementation of the original plan to save the lake.

Dhanmondi residents along the lake alleged a large work-shed built by the contractor, Monami International Private Limited, has now become a clubhouse for gangsters and drug addicts. The company did not remove its office from the site to carry on with work elsewhere in the city.

Mushrooming hospitals, diagnostic centres and housing firms dump waste into Dhanmondi Lake. This picture, with a close-up on left, tells the tale of a point near Road no. 32. PHOTO: AKM Mohsin