Industrial pollution in Chattogram, especially industrial wastewater, is on the rise, posing serious threat to the surface water sources, a roundtable was told.
According to a rapid situation assessment presented there, Kalurghat industrial area is facing a number of problems caused by a severe water shortage.
The country's commercial capital Chattogram, the assessment shows, has recorded a 20-meter decline in groundwater level over the past 40 years.
The findings were shared with the stakeholders at the roundtable on ‘Accelerating Change: Decentralizing the Conversation on Water Stewardship’, organised on March 18 in keeping with this year’s theme for World Water Day.
Foreign Investors’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Unilever Bangladesh Ltd. and WaterAid Bangladesh jointly organised the discussion at Radisson Blu Chattogram Bay View.
Industry representatives, academicians and representatives from service-oriented public institutions emphasized collective efforts and collaboration among Kalurghat industries and others to ensure water security.
Dwelling on the solution to the water crisis, Hasin Jahan, Country Director of WaterAid Bangladesh, said that multinational companies are demonstrating evidence of viable water management in their industries.
“We need to take a step further to collectively record these cases for creating a knowledge bank of good practices. This will eventually help us to do evidence-based advocacy and start a dialogue with the government,” he said adding that such alliance of the industries will open up opportunities to horizontally learn from the good practices of sustainable water management.
In the keynote, Dr Tanvir Ahmed, Professor of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), and Director at ITN-BUET, recommended that the Department of Environment (DoE) increase its vigilance over industries before the water sources reach its tipping point. He also suggested that a comprehensive assessment of the industrial area should be done to make data-driven decisions.
The roundtable observed that rapid and unplanned industrialization has resulted in depletion of groundwater levels, even in the cities outside the capital.
“Chattogram is home to a diverse range of industries that rely heavily on water, and for businesses, the end-to-end creation and use of our products are dependent on its continued access,” said Zaved Akhtar, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Unilever Bangladesh Ltd. He mentioned that UBL, FICCI and WaterAid chose Chattogram and Kalurghat heavy industrial area to build a dialogue and initiate a platform that helps plan and act together.
“We know that many unregulated industries are unaware of the adverse effects of groundwater depletion and surface water pollution and lack the understanding of the true economic value of water. Thus, we must play a critical role and have a collective responsibility to promote and ensure environmental and sustainable business practices,” he said.
Jahangir Sadaat, FICCI Director and Chairman of Korean Export Processing Zone (KEPZ), said, “As Bangladesh continues to progress towards becoming a middle-income country, it is important for industries to be conscious and responsible to ensure that economic progress is inclusive of environmental safety.”
He mentioned that FICCI members and other reputed companies based in Chattogram have implemented innovative steps in their factories and supply chain that can be showcased as the best practices for the industry.