At least 50 lakh dwellers of the Chittagong city have been facing an acute crisis of drinking water because of extreme salinity in the water supplied by Chittagong Water Supply and Sewerage Authority over the last 20 days, forcing people to search for water from distant areas. The salinity was found at places in the port city including Potenga, Agrabad, Halishahar, WASA area, Akbar Shah, Madarbari and some other areas.
Affected people have alleged that the authorities know that the problem emerges during the dry season of the year for the last 19 years, but they have taken hardly any pragmatic steps to tackle the crisis, except publishing a mass circular on newspapers.
But the authorities have blamed the Power Development Board for the problem, saying an increase of saline water during high tide in the Bay of Bengal and decline in the amount of water from upstream of the River Karnaphuli caused the salinity.
They have alleged that the PDB officials did not pay any heed to their request to release water from the Kaptai embankment during winter when they have less pressure of power generation.
A child was reported to have developed skin-related problems after taking bath in the saline water.
Aziz Uddin, a resident of Agrabad area, said pustules were seen on the skin of his six-year-old child soon after bathing in the water.
Chief engineer of Chittagong WASA Abdul Karim Chowdhury said they had requested the ministry concerned to call a inter-ministerial meeting and written a letter to
PDB chairmen in this regard.
Karim said, ‘If the flow from Kaptai embankment would continue, we would not have to face this crisis as sea water penetrates into Halda river, a branch of Karnaphuli, when flow from upstream of Karnaphuli declines.’
He referred to a technical committee formed to oversee the problem on the recommendation of an inter-ministerial meeting in 2009, which suggested that the PDB, which controls the Kaptai embankment, keep up the flow in dry season as necessary to tackle the problem but they did not take steps accordingly triggering the crisis.
Karim mentioned that the salinity level in the water varying from 1000mg to 100mg while the drinkable can contain at best 150 to 600mg salinity.
Jalal Uddin Chowdhury, member (generation) of PDB, said they preserved the water for the summer as the demand of the power at that time soars unlike the rest of the time of the year.
Apart from this, the water level is lower than the rule curb, a method to operate the plant, he added.
Jalal said in winter
the demand for power usually decreases, so most of the unit of Kaptai embankment remains out of production.
He said they are going to hold a meeting soon to discuss the issue and take necessary steps to address the problem.
-With New Age input