Dhaka, Bangladesh
Buriganga cleanup

Buriganga cleanup

The Buriganga, is considered to be Dhaka's lifeline. The river shows signs of resurrection with its water getting clearer. Relocation of polluting tanneries and some cleanup drives are helping in stopping the rot. Such a view of what used to be dubbed the Thames of Dhaka came clear during spot visits and exchange of views with riverside locals who now can breathe a little fresh air. Some days back, people getting nearer the river used to wrap their noses with handkerchiefs or tissue or bare hands to prevent nausea. There have been protracted campaigns and demonstrations against the polluting of the river, flowing through and close by the capital city, with tannery and other industrial wastes and discharge of wastewater from sewers. The quality of water in the Buriganga has improved slightly following the relocation of tanneries to Savar from the city's Hazaribagh area and also due to heavy rainfall. Steps have been taken to stop other sources of pollution and tanneries that have not yet been shifted. Onrush of water from upstream in the rainy season has also helped reduce the stench of the Buriganga. But a lot more needs to be done. People living in areas on the river seem relieved a little as the quality of the water has improved, and the stench is not as obnoxious as it was before. The level of average dissolved oxygen (DO) in the Buriganga waters has increased significantly the water quality. Resuscitation of the river is vital for around a 15-million-strong population of the city. The city people need to be free of pollution from the Buriganga, whose water has to be sufficiently pollution-free every day. A lot more things, including checking other industrial and domestic wastes, need to be done to fully revive the water quality of this important river. The government should now take strong measures to shift the dyeing factories located at Shyampur on the bank of the river to another place as those have become a major threat to it. The dyeing factories are discharging high levels of concentrated dyes, chemicals and heavy metals direct into the Buriganga through their hidden pipelines. The fishermen are getting some fish now in the Buriganga as its water has improved. There are now two major challenges -stopping both point and nonpoint sources of pollution and encroachment upon the rivers - to bring life back to the Buriganga and other rivers surrounding the capital. Bangladesh is a riverine country, and cleaning up of Buriganga and the major rivers of Bangladesh must now be taken up to make our country a 'clean-environment country' of the world.

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