The contaminated ‘black water’ of the river Buriganga is spreading various infectious diseases among people living in the areas adjacent to the river.
According to Human Rights Watch, residents in neighbouring slums regularly suffer from fevers, skin diseases, respiratory problems and diarrhoea mainly for coming in contact with the contaminated water.Tuhin, a neighbouring resident, said the laundry shops in their area often wash the clothes in the severely contaminated Buriganga water, causing skin diseases among their customers.
There are 107 pollution points from Sadarghat to Ashulia.
Of them, the major points are Gabtoli cattle market, Apple Enterprise, Base Tech Limited, NDO, Pubasha Kitchen Market, tannery, Dhaka WASA and Mitford Hospital.
During a visit to the bank of the Buriganga River on Thursday morning, this correspondent saw many laundrymen washing clothes in polluted water.
Besides, the dark water mixed with murky and stinky wastages is always spreading bad odour in and around the river.
Tens of thousands of people are using the Buriganga riverways every day to and from different far-flung areas of the country’s southern districts, including greater Barisal, Bhola, Patuakhali and Chandpur boarding on a number of launches through Sadarghat point in the old part in the capital.Every day, dreadful wastes that pollute water are being dumped into the river. Major parts of the river have become uninhabitable to fish. The water of this river has become unusable long ago.
Years of neglect and lack of care and maintenance are responsible for the present pitiable condition of the river, experts have said.
Industrial effluents are still 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 everywhere.
Experts said apart from stopping pollution by Hazaribagh tanneries, the authorities should stop all pollution sources one after another to save all the city rivers, including the Buriganga.
It is surprising to note that over 80,000 cubic metres of untreated industrial wastes are dumped every day into the Buriganga.
Crores of taka had allegedly been misused in the past in the name of freeing the river from pollution.
Household and solid waste disposal into the river are also contributing to pollution, which must be checked.
“The pollution of this river has reached in such a situation that a man cannot rent a house around the river Buriganga,” said Kamrunnahar Lata, a resident of Zinjira point.
“We are strangulating this lifeline of Dhaka to death” the housewife added.
Rafiq Haulader, a boatman in Keraniganj area, said “Buriganga water is full of chemical waste. It is no longer a river. I have been sailing boat and catching fish in the river since my childhood.”
Like me, the river was a source of bread and butter to hundreds of fishermen.
“There was a time when the water was crystal clear. Later, the tanneries rendered the river into toxic chemical. Now there is no insect here, let alone fish.”
Experts say fish and other aquatic organisms cannot survive if water does not have five milligrams of dissolved oxygen.
The ratio in Buriganga water has come to the edge of “zero.”
A study of Poribesh Bachao Andolion (Poba) found the ratio of dissolved oxygen is below 1 ml in per litre water in nine points including Chadnighat, Sadarghat terminal, Soarighat, Dhulaikhal and Pagla Bazar.
It has been learnt that most of the water of Sadarghat, Lalbagh, Soarighat, Kamrangirchar, Shahidnagar, Amlipara and Chandighat areas of the capital is ‘liquid ash’. Besides, WASA and tannery wastes, river water is being polluted by industrial wastes located on the bank of the river, kitchen markets wastes and wastes exuded from the launch and steamer.
A large number of sewerage wastes are dumped into the Buriganga River through a number of pipes due to the negligence of Dhaka City Corporation.
Leaders of environmentalist organizations and civil society said that the Buriganga will get back life again if the government undertakes long term plan to save the river.
A section of unscrupulous persons is engaged in sand-lifting and accumulating on the river bank ranges between Aganagar and Hasanabad.
A huge volume of sand is being unloaded from lighter vessels with the river being filled consequently.
Environmentalist organisations and civil bodies said long term plan on Buriganga River would change the overall look of Dhaka city.
Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon, Joint secretary Sharif Jamil recently said, “Buriganga is being polluted through a number of pointed and non-pointed sources, including untreated sewerage inputs from the town, wastewater and other numerous other contamination sources, such as small-manufacturing facilities and significant non-point agricultural activities.”
“We have been struggling to free the river from pollution since 2006. We will arrange a protest programme in the capital soon with a view to saving the Shitalakhya River, the BAPA leader said.