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The Financial Express

Towards a clean, waste-free city  

| Updated: September 17, 2020 23:11:46


Towards a clean, waste-free city   

Rapid urbanisation over the past decades saw an unrestrained growth of cities and their populations in Bangladesh. And with it came its accompanying evil, garbage. As expected, being the nation's capital, Dhaka shares the bulk of the population burden as well as the garbage load. As such, Dhaka alone contributes a quarter of the entire 25, 000 tonnes of garbage that all the urban centres of the country generate a day. Now the problem is that with the existing arrangement system under the different city corporations, municipalities and some neighbourhood level efforts to collect waste, only a portion of the cities' household garbage, especially, the solid waste, can be disposed of.  The rest gets dumped in the open, in the drainage system and in canals, lakes and other water bodies. In course of time, these dumped waste materials accumulate, clog and pollute the water all around. And those lying in the open rot and pollute the air and the environment. Of still greater concern are the hazardous solid waste materials from hospitals and clinics and non-biodegradable polythene bags and plastic products. Add to them the waste and effluent produced and released by various industrial units, institutes and commercial entities.

To keep the cities and their environment clean, pollution-free and liveable, a way out needs to be thought out and made use of. What cannot be lost sight of is the fact that the volume of urban waste will continue to increase with the passage of time. A projection shows that by 2025, the cities will produce 47,000 tonnes of waste a day which translates into 0.60 kg per person per day. To manage such colossal amounts of waste, there is no alternative to a scientific approach to the problem. To this end, solutions like recycling and reuse of the waste, production of fertilisers, converting the waste into energy and so on should be given serious considerations. The main objective of such endeavours would be to look for a clean, efficient and sustainable management of waste. The government's plan to set up an eco-friendly waste-to-energy power plant at the city's Amin bazaar landfill is an exemplary move in this direction. More such initiatives including some under the public-private umbrella would go a long way towards creating a clean, waste-free city.

In a recently held virtual event to mark the launch of a pilot project aimed at building a waste-and-pollution-free clean community, the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) mayor, for example, made some promises that merit commendation. His offer to the city's building owners of a 10 per cent holding tax rebate if they create gardens on their rooftops is definitely a timely move towards presenting us with a beautiful city. What is further heartening is his word of opening 23 parks and four playgrounds in the city. These are no doubt desirable steps to provide the congested city life with a breathing space.

Even the Goal 11 of the UN's SDGs set for Bangladesh to be achieved by 2030 requires that our cities were made inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. So, in view of the primacy of the urban waste management problem, it merits to be treated as a high priority policy area, and not a peripheral one, by the government. Hopefully, the government's budgetary allocations would reflect the stepped up importance it attaches to the issue.

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