Having been surrounded by rivers and crisscrossed by innumerable canals, the capital city Dhaka is one of the most blessed cities in the world. The rivers surrounding Dhaka are a lifeline of the rapidly growing the mega city as these provide drainage system, drinking water, different kinds of fishes and also waterways for traveling.
However, as the city has been developed mostly in a haphazard manner without considering its physical and social diminution, the environmental consequences originating from rapid increase of population along with the increase of polluting effluents from industries, and municipal as well as other waste are having profound negative impacts on this lifeline.
The disposal of domestic and industrial wastes has turned the rivers around the capital highly toxic, posing a threat to both aquatic and human lives, say environmentalists.
In turn, the polluted waters of the rivers are posing increasing threats to the living organisms including humans residing by the rivers.
Buriganga the most important among the rivers surrounding Dhaka city is the worst affected by pollution.
The river water with murky and stinky wastes has turned pitch-black liquid spreading bad smell in and around the river.
In such a situation, thousands of people from far-flung Barisal, Bhola, Patuakhali and Chandpur districts are to cross this toxic river to reach the capital’s Sadar Ghat, every day.
Every moment, domestic sewage and industrial effluent are polluting the Buriganga water where no fish can live, the green activists say.
The water of this river has become unusable long ago. Even it is difficult for a man to take a breath on the bank of the river.
Gone are the days when the river water was crystal-clear and drinkable. Years of neglect and lack of care are responsible for the present pitiable condition of the river. Industrial effluents are now dumped into the Buriganga through four major points – Hazaribagh, Shyampur, Pagla and Dholaikhal.
As per the Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act, 1995, no one can pollute a river, but the Buriganga is being polluted every day, violating the law.
Encroachment on the river by influential people is nothing new.
Apart from stopping pollution by Hazaribagh tanneries, the authorities concerned should stop polluting all the city rivers, including the Buriganga.
It is surprising that over 80,000 cubic metres of untreated industrial wastes are dumped every day into the Buriganga.
Millions of dollars had allegedly been misused in the past in the name of freeing the river from pollution.
Household and solid waste disposal into the river is also contributing to pollution which must be checked.
Environmentalists and members of the civil society should play their roles in this regard effectively.