Each year World Rivers Day is observed in the country as elsewhere across the world. River enthusiasts as well as the government give their speeches regarding protection of rivers with a view to sustaining human survival on Earth. Unfortunately, we, immediate after the observation of the international day, forget what we just promised the previous day for. Rivers are indiscriminately polluted and encroached upon by these same human beings. Similarly, the earnest call for saving Buriganga — the life-blood of Dhaka — does not make an appeal to us. Shockingly though, an integrated project to save Buriganga from severe pollution cannot be undertaken whatsoever by any successive governments. Apart from massive encroachment and pollution, low waterflow has led the river to a sorry state. Spending of millions of words really matters little until actions are visible. Dhaka will find it much difficult to survive if Buriganga is lost in such a way.
Buriganga, one of the main rivers of Dhaka, is currently being polluted in two chief ways. All the refuse of Dhaka is thrown into the river and its bank is affected with acute sound and other forms of pollution. Study says about 88 per cent of total degree of current pollution is caused by waste materials. Besides, the riverside lands are going into the grasp of locally influential sections. Even these people are grabbing lands up to the very chest of Buriganga. Unplanned or poorly planned factories and industries and also illegal brick kilns, on both sides of Buriganga, have shrunk spaces for normal water flow and are cruelly harming the river ecology turning it into a almost dead river with the presence of few aquatic animals. Very recently, the government has relocated tannery industry set up by Buriganga at Hazaribagh in the capital to Savar Industrial Park, which has borne positive impacts on the river. But steps are yet to be taken against the grabbers.
History testifies that Buriganga has been polluted for over 200 years and the river bank for over four decades. A proposal was placed to Dhaka City Corporation and the government as well to protect the two sides of the river, which received mass support. The proposal included setting up of a river bank protection board comprising urban planners, architects, ward representatives, learned people and government representatives. Doing forestation and banning illegal structures on both sides of the river were also proposed. But none of the proposals was taken into consideration. Resultantly, the river has almost lost its charm once it used to put on. The lost beauty of Buriganga can be revived if integrated measures, instead of spending of words, can be taken. But a true will, of doing that, is the foremost need.