Dhaka, Bangladesh
Kaptai Lake dying

Kaptai Lake dying

A report on the state of Kaptai Lake that it is in death throes gives us quite a shock. Since long reports had it that the lake was in moribund condition. But the worrying signal fell flat on deaf ears of the authorities concerned. Now the Kaptai Lake, the biggest man-made water body in Bangladesh, is heading for a tragic end as silt is deposited on its bottom and waste materials continue to pollute it uninterruptedly every day. The 688-square -kilometre freshwater lake, created by damming the Karnafuli River in Rangamati for hydroelectricity in 1960, has been providing livelihood for a large portion of the local population through tourism, fishing, transportation and many more ways. Besides, it is the biggest source of sweet water fish in Chattogram Hill Tracts region. According to environment experts, pollution and the use of pesticides are mainly attributed to the degeneration of the water body. As the lake connects six sub-districts, thousands of people traverse through it every day. Waste and oil from launches and boats, garbage dumped by people living on its edges wreak havoc on the lake. It is not clear how much waste including plastic and polythene is dumped into the lake over the years and no clean-up drive is known to have been taken so far. The lake has never been dredged in 59 years resulting in the decline of its water holding capacity. The lake becomes dotted with shoals when the water level falls, although the average depth of the lake is nine metres. Launch and steamers then have to suspend operation until the water level rises. It affects the people dependent on the lake and hampers the power production as well. The 230-megawatt capacity hydroelectric power plant's production has decreased down to 110 MW and the situation will not improve until there is adequate rainfall. It is an alarming situation that calls for urgent and effective measures. The lake needs urgent dredging, but according to environment activists, dredging is not a permanent solution. In that case, the environment activists should suggest the permanent solution that may be a long-term one. But dredging may be undertaken as a primary remedy. Fish resources in the lake has also plummeted due to increasing pollution. Besides, lake-shore grabbling is also continuing with impunity. However, it is high time for the authorities concerned to protect Kaptai Lake from pollution, encroachment and siltation and for that it is imperative to keep the lake under constant surveillance. The ecological activists should also play a proactive role in creating awareness of people to save the lake from dying.

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