Purified surface water meeting demands of Rohingyas in camps

Surface water reservoir and treatment plant at Nayapara Rohingya camp in Teknaf upazila of Cox's Bazar. The reservoir is surrounded by Rohingya camps
Surface water reservoir and treatment plant at Nayapara Rohingya camp in Teknaf upazila of Cox’s Bazar. The reservoir is surrounded by Rohingya camps

Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE) under the Local Government Division (LGD) has been meeting up demands of drinking water for the Rohingyas and the host communities in the area by purifying surface water from rainfall, fountains and local ponds of the hilly areas also to supply water for harvesting in Cox’s Bazar’s Teknaf and Ukhiya regions.
The initiatives was taken to ensure proper use of surface water, lessen pressure on decreasing ground water, save the area from the worst impact of climate change and protecting the ecosystem of the area.
The DPHE has been implementing the initiative establishing water reservoirs and surface water treatment plants for entire Cox’s Bazar area with the support of some development partners including the Asian development Bank (ADB), NGO Forum for Water and Oxfam Bangladesh.
According to Local Government Division officials, the authorities have been planning to meet up country’s 70pc demands in future following the target of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). To achieve the target, the
authorities have been establishing several water reservoirs and surface water treatment plants across the country.
Initially, some water treatment plants have already been established in Dhaka and Chattogram. Following the approval of the government, work of establishing plants in Rajshahi, Narayanganj, Gazipur, Cumilla and Mymensingh would start soon. Gradually, these will be implemented in the coastal and salinity-prone areas of the country, according to the officials.
When contacted, LGRD Minister Tajul Islam told this correspondent on Tuesday at his office that his Ministry is working relentlessly to ensure use of surface water for reducing pressure on ground water following the target of SDG Goals.
“Though use of surface water is initially ongoing on in Dhaka, Chattogram and Cox’s Bazar, it would be extended across the country in future as ground water is declining rapidly. Within 2030, we will meet up 70pc demand from surface water as per the SDG target,” he added.
While visited Nayapara Shalbagan Rohingya Camp of Cox’s Bazar’s Teknaf recently, it was seen that the DPHE was supplying purified water, which was treated in the surface water treatment plant established with a joint initiative of the DPHE and ADB.
In Nayapara Camp, two water treatment plants were installed at an expense of Tk 18 crore beside a six acres pond, which was filled with garbage earlier, for using it as source for purifying water after restoration by excavation. Embankments of the pond preserving around 2.5 crore litre of water harvesting from rain and fountain sources were protected building brick and concrete walls.
The plants is supplying about 30 lakh litres water every day with an hourly production capacity of 1.25 lakh litres. Each Rohingya families is now getting 20 litres of drinking water every day for drinking and other uses from the water treatment plants.
The DPHE and ADB are also installing two more treatment plants at Unchhiprang of Teknaf and Anjumanpara of Palongkhali in Ukhiya for meeting up demand of water from surface water sources like rainfall and local rivers including the Naf River for Rohingyas and host community.
The plant of Unchhiprang, which has a capacity to produce one lakh litres an hour, will supply 12 lakh litres of water every day. Purifying the water collected from a river with a distance of 8km would be supplied to the Rohingyas. It was installed at a cost of Tk 13.5 crore.
The Anjumanpara plant of Palongkhali is being established on 100 acres spending Tk 58 crore near the Naf leasing from local landlord. It will have a reservoir of five lakh metre, the largest in Bangladesh, with the capacity of 50 crore litres. During rainy season, sweet water of the Naf River will be preserved there and supplied to Rohingyas and host communities after purification.
As a result, the people living in the area including the Rohingyas will get sweet instead of saline water being supplied now at different places in the area. It would also help the authority to protect the eco-system and ground water in a tolerable stage for livelihood.
Along with the plants, the authority has started building a large surface water treatment plant at the embankment of Cox’s Bazar’s Bakkhali River with a capacity of purifying 2.4 crore litres per day. About 10 lakh litres of sweet water would be supplied per hour to 40 lakh people of Cox’s Bazar municipality and nearby areas from the plant being installed at a cost of Tk 136 crore.
Regarding the plants, Project Director Abdul Halim Khan told this correspondent it’s a dream project of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for ensuring sweet and pure water keeping the ground water intact. Following her instruction, the DPHE under the LGD is implementing the project – building infrastructures and installing pipelines – for using surface water in every stage.
If the use of surface water is ensured, water level of the area will be refilled and salinity will be reduced. The natural beauty of the area will be restored, he added.
Deputy Project Director Mustafizur Rahman told this correspondent they are planning to restore the local ponds of the area and use those as water reservoirs after renovation. Once the project is implemented completely, it would help restore natural beauty and the eco-system.
Residents of Nayapara Rohingya camp, Yasmin and Saiful Islam said once the hills collapsed due to inadequate maintenance. Now, the authorities have been taking care of the hills for fountain water and rain water harvesting. As a result, they don’t need now to bring water for long distances. Instead, they are getting pure drinking water from the plants.
Abul Kalam Azad and Moniruzzaman, representatives of the ADB, told this correspondent that they are working to ensure fresh and safe drinking water for the host community and Rohingyas as a partner of the government. The project would become a blessing for the government to protect local ecosystem.

Mohosinul Karim

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