Littering, a common practice of city dwellers in Bangladesh, is heaping up with times due to the apathy of the authorities, lack of awareness among people and negligence of law enforcement agencies, say experts.
They also said the mayors of the two city corporations had promised to make Dhaka a beautiful and clean city, but they have so far failed to come up with any well-thought-out plan of action and campaign programme to address the problem.
Tonnes of plastic and other bottles, cans, cigarette butts and packets, papers, paper bags, waste from different food items, coconut shells, tissue papers, domestic refuse, vegetable waste, clothes and hard waste are thrown here and there every day in the city.
In 2016, the two city corporations set up around 6,700 trash bins to check littering, but most of those got disappeared within a year.
Urban experts think inappropriate bins, unplanned installation, lack of maintenance and public awareness are the key reasons behind the failure of this initiative.
Talking to UNB, professor Nazrul Islam, a renowned urban expert, said littering problem is getting worse gradually in the capital for lack of good governance and the irresponsible attitude of the two city corporations.
He said people are also not aware of littering and they throw waste everywhere without thinking its effects. “If you look around, you’ll find trashes and litters everywhere. So, we need to raise awareness among people to change their littering habit.”
Stating that littering is a social crime which affects the environment, Nazrul said the government should enforce law and fine people who litter and the shop owners who cannot keep their premises clean. “There’s no littering problem in Dhaka Cantonment area as people there obey the law strictly.”
Environment activist and architect Iqbal Habib said littering is considered as a crime and people responsible for it are fined in many cities across the world. So, the authorities should make littering a social crime in Dhaka and penalise people for committing it.”
He said though the two mayors promised to turn Dhaka into a clean and beautiful city, the capital has become an ugly one with widespread littering. “The mayors did not take any well-planned measure and build durable infrastructures to resolve the problem.”
Habib said there is no trash bins within two-three kilometer areas along the rods to dump wastes in Dhaka city. “In Singapore, you’ll find three-four bins within half of a kilometer area with warnings of getting fined of $100 if any one litter. We need such system.”
He said two Dhaka city corporations installed faulty and unsuitable trash bins in an unplanned way that is why those were either stolen or got damaged. “Sophisticated and durable trash bins were set up at Hatirjheel in a planned way several years back and all of those still intact.”
Habib said local community must be involved with the efforts to address the littering problem. “Community’s problem should be resolved with the participation of community members. We can create volunteers in every area who will detect people indulging in littering and make them aware of the problem.”
Poribesh Bachao Andolon (POBA) chairman Abu Naser Khan said lettering is mainly a cultural problem. “People who are coming to city from rural areas or living in it can’t adopt the urban culture. That’s why they throw litters here and there.”
He said it is the main duty of the city corporation to keep the city clean, but they are being miserably failed to play their role in this regard.
“Our government, city corporations and other authorities concerned don’t consider littering is a serious problem. That is why this problem is worsening,” he said.
Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) general secretary MA Matin said littering on the roads and here and there has become a phenomenon in Dhaka while the awareness level among the city dwellers about the problem is still very low.
“Littering is a big problem in many cities, but it’s a serious problem in Dhaka as it’s an over populated mega city while the numbers of its residents are growing day by day. No effective step has so far taken to address it,” he said
Matin said littering is not only ruining the beauty of the capital, but also seriously affecting the environment and causing air, soil and water pollution. “This issue needs to be taken seriously by both the authorities and the city dwellers.”