Fatullah  © AFP
Fatullah © AFP

After much deliberation and a prolonged session of negotiations with the board, Australia’s 2017 tour of Bangladesh is finally scheduled to get underway. Unfortunately, Khan Saheb Osman Ali Stadium in Fatullah is in no condition to host the start-of-tour match, scheduled to begin on August 22. Rains have always prevented proper cricket from taking place in Bangladesh during monsoon, but the condition in Fatullah has reasons beyond the usual rain-affected ground. It will be an understatement to call the ground water-logged: almost every part of the ground outside the 30-yard circle is covered in water, while the wider sections of the ground bear the appearance of a lake. The pitch resembles an island from a distance.

The situation outside the ground is worse, thanks to water pollution of the worst level. The garbage ranges from plastic containers to hyacinth, and worse. According to Dainik Ittefaq, the source of the water is twofold, from Ramar Bagh in the west and several dye factories in the south. The industrial waste has given the water a sickeningly black colour.

The outlets are not sufficient to drain the water out. Both areas, reasonably elevated from the cricket ground, were separated by brick walls; unfortunately, the wall has been demolished by unidentified people one night. The damage is not restricted to the ground: several residential quarters around the ground are submerged to various degrees.

The disgusted local youth has released minnows (small fish) in the water as a form of protest. If the ground does not get ready on time (which may well be the case) the venue may be shifted to Sylhet International Cricket Stadium. The tour will consist of two Tests, to be played at Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur (starting August 27) and Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, Chittagong (starting September 4).