The bottom of the Kirtankhola River in Barishal is so filled with plastic wastes that the authorities are facing difficulties in dredging in the port area.
Officials fear the river may lose navigability if the dredging work cannot be done properly due to the plastic wastes dumped from vessels and through drains.
The dredging began on Dec 4, 2022 to ensure the port area is 14 feet deep by excavating 100,000 cubic metre sand from the riverbed, according to bdnews24.com.
On Tuesday, workers were using small boats to get to the cutter device and untangle the plastic wastes by using scissors at regular intervals.
The wastes are then re-dumped in an area prone to erosion, said Md Rafiqul Islam, the operator of the dredger.
“We’re forced to stop the machine every hour and it is taking more than an hour to clean the wastes,” Rafiqul said. He claimed the stoppage would increase the time to finish the work fourfold.
Md Mizanur Rahman, a superintending engineer at Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority, suggested using nets in the mouths of the drains to stop plastic garbage and polythene bags from flowing into the river. “It’ll give protection to some extent.”
In the long run, the city authorities should arrange solid waste management and sewerage treatment plants, he said. “Otherwise,it’ll be impossible to conduct dredging in the near future.”
Abdur Razzak, a BIWTA official at Barishal river port, said all the wastes of the city are dumped into the river through canals and drains.
Md Monir, the helmsman of the launch Laxmipur, said it is difficult to use Barishal port as the river is only 5.5 feet deep at the pier now during the dry season.
Rafiqul Alam, coordinator of environmental organisation Bangladesh Poribesh Andolan, said the Kirtankhola will suffer the same fate as the polluted Buriganga of Dhaka if proper steps are not taken to save the river in the southern district.
Pollution would damage biodiversity and make fish disappear from the river, he warned.