• Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019
  • Last Update : 11:54 pm

A black river runs through it

  • Published at 12:04 am May 19th, 2019
Boat
Photo: SYED ZAKIR HOSSAIN

There is still some chance of reversing this tragedy

Rivers are an inextricable part of Bangladesh’s heritage and livelihood, which makes the extreme pollution levels in our rivers, especially the Buriganga, all the more tragic.

The current toxicity of the Buriganga water makes the air around it noxious, and the water itself is responsible for several health hazards.

The Buriganga during the dry season becomes uninhabitable, utterly devoid of oxygen and of all aquatic life-forms, according to the deputy director of the Department of Environment. 

Though much of the blame has previously been placed upon the tanneries in Hazaribagh -- and they have been responsible over the years in destroying the Buriganga -- their much-delayed and painstakingly slow relocation is no longer a definitive solution to impede further degradation of the Buriganga. 

The blame, rather, falls on the authorities and all stakeholders responsible, including both the Dhaka Wasa and both Dhaka city corporations, who dump a significant portion of their untreated waste into the Buriganga every day.

In previous years, efforts to clean up our rivers have been ineffective due to numerous factors -- among which include the impunity that polluters have historically enjoyed, bureaucracy and disagreement among concerned government bodies, and ultimately, negligence on the part of all concerned authorities in not prioritizing this issue.

This needs to change, while there is still some chance of reversing this tragedy.

What is required is a thorough assessment of the problems -- their identification and analysis before being addressed strategically, containing planning and thought.

It is only when the nation makes saving our rivers a priority, and not an afterthought, will we have any chance of achieving that goal.