Industry owners urged to form alliance for water safety
Industry owners should come under a platform and form an alliance to take collective steps to ensure water security amid the country's transformation through rapid industrialisation, said climate researchers and senior officials of the country's leading industrial groups in a roundtable discussion in Chattogram on Saturday.
They also called for a high-level study on the impact of consuming groundwater in a discussion titled "Accelerating Change: Decentralising the Conversation on Water Stewardship", jointly organised by Unilever Bangladesh Ltd, Foreign Investors' Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and WaterAid Bangladesh, at the Radisson Blu Chattogram Bay View hotel marking the upcoming World Water Day to be observed on March 22.
The country's commercial hub, Chattogram, is greatly affected by the water crisis, said the speakers, mentioning that in the last 40 years, the groundwater level here has dropped by 20 metres.
Industries and locals are facing difficulties due to acute water shortage in the Kalurghat Industrial Area. Therefore, joint initiatives should be taken to ensure water security, they added.
BUET Professor Dr Tanvir Ahmed, who presented the main article in the meeting, made recommendations for the Department of Environment (DoE) to increase monitoring on industrial groups to conserve water sources.
Industrial pollution is on the rise in Chattogram, posing a serious threat to surface water sources, showed findings of the article where situation assessment index results of heavy industrial areas in the port city were presented.
Hasin Jahan, country director of WaterAid Bangladesh, said, "If the industries can form an alliance and come under a platform, it will be easier to take collaborative steps to ensure water security as well as reduce the use of groundwater in the future. For this, high-level assessments are required on the impact of groundwater and surface water use in industries and households."
"First of all, we need to know about the quality and quantity of ground water. We need to know when there could be a disaster. Another is to monitor surface water. We need to take action by understanding the water conditions," he added.
Zaved Akhtar, CEO and managing director of Unilever Bangladesh Ltd, said, "Surface water sources are being polluted by industrial and agricultural wastes. As a result, millions of people in Bangladesh are suffering from the lack of safe drinking water and water-borne diseases. The water crisis has far-reaching effects on industry, agriculture, fisheries and the overall economy of the country".
Jahangir Saadat, chairman of the Korean Export Processing Zone (KEPZ) and director of FICCI, said, "Industries have become highly dependent on groundwater, which will increase exponentially in the future. Chattogram, dubbed as the commercial capital of the country, also has several water-dependent industries, due to which the ground water level of the city has decreased up to 20 metres in the last 40 years. The water level has dropped from 2.2 to 2.65 metres per year".
Tahmidul Islam, technical adviser of WASH at WaterAid Bangladesh; Somnath Chougule, factory director of Unilever Bangladesh Ltd; Shuvodip Bhattacharjee, plant manager of Transcom Beverages Ltd; Kawsar Hasan, chief officer at Chattogram factory of Berger Paints Bangladesh Ltd; Md Azizul Haque, head of manufacturing at BSRM and Provas Chandra Das, manufacturing director of Coats Bangladesh Ltd, were also present in the discussion moderated by Shamima Akhter, director, corporate affairs, partnerships and communications at Unilever Bangladesh Ltd.