It is nothing short of tragedy that we have let the once-great Buriganga River become so polluted.
Not even the High Court directives to save the river have been properly enforced, and the quality of life in Bangladesh has suffered because of it.
Over the last couple of decades, encroachment and excessive amounts of pollution has caused the water of the Buriganga to become unusable, and unsustainable for aquatic life.
It might be possible yet to save the Buriganga -- organisers of a recent protest placed a 13-point demand to the authorities, which include proper implementation of the High Court directives, the installation of water purification plants at all industries adjacent to the river, and the eviction of makeshift structures to free up the parts of the river that have been encroached upon.
But the first thing to do is to stop the continuous discharge of thousands of tons of industrial waste, garbage, and sewage.
In the past, projects to clean up rivers failed because of the impunity granted to polluters.
We need polluters to be dealt with more harshly -- blatant disregard for legal directives, coupled with indifference towards our environment has made the job of protecting rivers so difficult.
Most importantly, polluters should pay up for the damage they have caused.
It is not an option to turn our back on the Buriganga, no matter how daunting it may seem to try to clean it up at this stage.
Bangladesh is a riverine country -- rivers are inextricably tied to our heritage and livelihood.
Let us do a better job of protecting them.