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Shitalakshya River dying slowly

  • Published at 01:12 am January 30th, 2020
Shitalakshya River
Polluted with industrial waste, the Shitalakshya River has turned red Dhaka Tribune

During a visit to Kanchpur point recently, this correspondent found a huge amount of waste and contaminated water is mixing freely with the river

The Shitalakshya River, known as the lifeline of Narayanganj , the Dundee of East is ailing due to severe pollution, land encroachment, and sand extraction.

The city stands on the bank of the river. Until the road connections were fully developed almost 15 years ago, trade and communication heavily depended on waterways. Now, the country’s one of the most important rivers has almost lost her navigability, especially in winter, with the fall of water levels.

Sources said more than 2,000 industries on the banks of the river stretching from Kanchpur to Narayanganj are dumping various types of toxic chemicals into the river, causing widespread pollution.

Of them, only 301 industries are using Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) to purify the waste water, according to the Department of Environment (DoE).

During a visit to Kanchpur point recently, this correspondent found a huge amount of waste and contaminated water is mixing freely with the river.

Millions of gallons of untreated wastewater, mainly from industries, are being dumped into the rivers around the city through the industries.

Haresa Begum, a local resident, said a number of mills and factories have been set up alongside the riverbanks.

Waste and toxic chemicals mixing with water are finding their way into the river through different underground pipelines, she added.

Besides, a portion of the river’s eastern side is being used as the dumping ground of garbage generated at nearby boat terminal nearby the city.

Fish are also disappearing from the river due to the continuous water pollution.

Akbar Miah, aged around 65, resident of Kanchpur area of Narayanganj, has been fishing in the Shitalakkhya River since he was 10, but now he is facing hard time due to rescinding number of fish.

Fishing is his only profession to bear his family’s expenses as it is with many other fishermen in the area. But, he is now thinking of quitting the occupation since he cannot catch enough fish to sustain his family.

People living alongside the riverbanks used to drink its fresh water not too long ago. But, at present water contamination has skyrocketed, giving it a reddish hue and emitting an unpleasant odour.

Riverbank dwellers and those crossing the river now feel suffocated by the unpleasant stench.

As part of creating public awareness, several voluntary organizations often hold various colourful boat rallies, human chains, distribute leaflets, paste posters, and organize signature campaign to recuperate the dying river. However, all the efforts have proved futile.

Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa) Joint Secretary AB Siddiqui said: “The [Shitalakshya] river is one of the important resources in the district as well as in the country. The water of the river was once used for domestic purposes.”

DoE’s Narayanganj office Inspector Md Moinul Haque said  the river is being polluted from a number of pointed and non-pointed sources, including untreated sewerage inputs from the town, waste water, and other numerous contamination sources, such as small-manufacturing facilities and significant non-point agricultural activities.

More ETPs must be set up to save the river from pollution, he added.