Kefayat Ullah, who frequently rides water taxis on Hatirjheel, could not previously cross the lake without covering his nose as the water smelled foul, but recently he has been enjoying pleasant trips across the lake as the authorities cleaned it.
Roni Ahmed, who has been working as a water taxi driver for five years, told TBS that the number of passengers using this service has increased after the lake was cleaned and it seems that the pressure will increase by several times in the summer.
Hatirjheel lake, developed as a modern recreation spot and waterway, has been attracting a lot of visitors since its opening in 2013, but its foul-smelling water repulsed them. To remedy the problem, the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) implemented a cleaning project, involving Tk55 crore, from January 2019 to October 2021.
ASM Raihanul Ferdous, the chief engineer of Rajuk and director of the Hatirjheel project, told TBS, "We were very concerned about keeping the Hatirjheel clean. After searching for a while, we found out that a polluted lake like this one has been cleaned in Perth, Australia."
"Then, following the advice of Australian experts, we were able to improve the quality of the water in Hatirjheel lake by using advanced machinery and technology. For the last five-six months, there has been no foul smell in the lake water."
Currently, the Rajuk is using a dredger and 650 diffusers to keep the lake clean. They are also using 14 new compressors and spraying chemicals to purify the water.
At present, the lake's maintenance cost is Tk18 crore, including Tk7 crore for water purification, per year.
Raihanul Ferdous said one of the reasons for the pollution of Hatirjheel is that the wastes from surrounding areas including Karwan Bazar, Panthapath, Dhanmondi, Kalabagan, Kathalbagan and Banglamotor fall into Hatirjheel. This pressure garbage increases during the monsoon.
"If the government develops alternative systems for waste management in those areas, Hatirjheel will no longer be polluted, and its maintenance cost will also drop significantly," said the Rajuk chief engineer.
Anwar Hossain, a ticket checker for the water taxi, said it will be possible to measure the cleaning project's success only after the monsoon starts, as garbage washed into the lake by rain pollutes it the most.
Around three lakh slum dwellers occupied the Hatirjheel area before the government took a project involving Tk2,600 crores in 2007 to reclaim and rejuvenate the waterbody.