| 03 May 2021, 21:13 | Update : 03 May 2021, 21:16
Ibtesum Alam Preeti
Transboundary pollution points those contaminations that originate in one territory but the effects can harm the environment, the society beyond that territory.
Geographically, Bangladesh is sharing almost fifty-four transboundary rivers, also few canals with India and highly dependent on India for its water accessibility. So, India and Bangladesh are connected largely through trans-border water sources.
Although, transboundary water bodies are a major source of water for our people, how often we get fresh and usable water is a serious concern.
Akhaura municipality area and 15 villages under Brahmanbaria district are suffering immensely because of contaminated water coming from Agartala (Tripura, India) through the Akhaura canal.
Akhaura canal was constructed in Agartala and it is situated in border of Akhaura, Bangladesh-Agartala, India.
In Brahmanbaria, the canal is known as “Senarbadi” and according to the DoE authorities, it flows throughout large agricultural areas of Akhaura upazila, 15 villages before entering into the river Titas. The villagers were mainly dependent on the canal for their basic water needs.
The canal used to be an origin of sweet water, moreover
fisheries, agricultures, domestic activities were enormously dependent on it.
Unfortunately, numerous categories of industrial, medical, agricultural, household, solid-sewage wastes of Agartala flowed with the water and enter in Akhaura through the canal. Thus, Senarbadi began to contaminate by transboundary pollution coming from India, and day by day the level of contamination has risen so high that people cannot breathe the toxic smell of water, let alone using it for their livelihoods.
The situation has been highlighted many times in previous years, but there was no ray of resolution. Bangladesh then humbly requested India to take necessary actions to reduce our transboundary harm. It was a positive response from them and they assured us to construct a treatment plant to treat the polluted water. Despite it, no progress has seen.
According to the No Harm Principle (principle 21, The Stockholm Conference, 1972), no country will cause any harm beyond its territory (other nation/persons/environment) through its activities.
Similarly, 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development also highlighted No Harm Principle as a significant principle to control the human behaviors of one state, so that they cannot pollute or damage other states even the least.
Both Bangladesh and India are signatory members of these conferences, but proper implementations cannot be observed. And maybe in this sector our authority could not develop plenteously, that is why people of Brahmanbaria are suffering from such a curse.
No Harm Principle is a very effective principle that can put bindings in our activities and reduce pollutions. If our country implemented the principle properly, they could stop pollution in Akhaura very early. Yet, we can still hope and we actually do hope.
Our nation, being quite responsible, has resolved many issues by proper implementation and management of rules and regulations. So, if our Government set an efficient and effective norm of No Harm Principle for our transboundary water issues, plus manage it entirely, then we will be able to solve any problems related to our trans-border. Besides, cooperation of India is also expected. If India cooperates us in any transboundary issue, where because of their activities we are suffering, and take sufficient steps to reduce the pollution, then easily and very swiftly any problems will be solved marvelously.
The toxic polluted water has been affecting the villagers extremely. Their life, livelihoods, health all have become vulnerable. Moreover, the environment, non-human entities, the biodiversity of that area are also badly damaged due to the contact with the noxious water.
The transboundary water pollution has made the people of that region really helpless. The situation is really frustrating and immediate actions are needed to give the villagers a livable life. If the situation continues and authorities do not take proper actions, the locals will maybe have to shift their residences and have to lose their livelihoods, their origin and self-dignity.
(Ibtesum Alam Preeti is a Student of North South University, Bangladesh under Department of Environmental Science and Management.)