Buriganga River of Bangladesh: crying for purity
A BDINN Exclusive Video Report
Camera: Hasanul Banna
Reporting : Atiqur Rahman
Voice : Addita
Director: Pavel Sarwar
The Buriganga River (Old Ganges) is the main river flowing beside Dhaka city, capital of Bangladesh.
In the distant past, a course of the Ganges River used to reach the Bay of Bengal through the Dhaleshwari River. This course gradually shifted and ultimately lost its link with the main channel of the Ganges and was renamed as the Buriganga.
It is said that the water levels during high and low tides in this river astonished the Mughals. When the Mughals made Dhaka their capital, in 1610, the banks of the Buriganga were already a prime location for trade. The river was also the city’s main source of drinking water.
The Buriganga is economically very important to Dhaka. Launches and Country Boats provide connection to the other parts of Bangladesh, a largely riverine country.
Unfortunatly today, the Buriganga river is afflicted by the noisome problem of pollution. The chemical waste of mills and factories, home waste, medical waste, sewage, dead animals, plastics, and oil are some of the Buriganga’s pollutants. The city of Dhaka discharges about 4,500 tons of solid waste every day and most of it is released into the Buriganga. According to the Department of the Environment (DoE), 20,000 tonnes of tannery waste, including some highly toxic materials, are released into the river every day.
Experts identified nine industrial areas in and around the capital city as the primary sources of river pollution: Tongi, Tejgaon, Hazaribagh, Tarabo, Narayanganj, Savar, Gazipur, Dhaka Export Processing Zone and Ghorashal. Most of the industrial units of these areas have no sewage treatment plants of their own.
More than 60,000 cubic meters of toxic waste, including textile dying, printing, washing and pharmaceuticals, are released into the main water bodies of Dhaka every day.
According to the Dhaka Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA), about 12,000 cubic meters of untreated waste are released into the lake from Tejgaon, Badda and Mohakhali industrial areas every day. The waste mostly comes from garment washing and dyeing plants. Textile industries annually discharge as much as 56 million tons of waste, 0.5 million tons of sludge. Sewage is also released into the Buriganga. A newspaper article in 2004 indicated that up to 80% of Dhaka’s sewage was untreated. Because of Dhaka’s heavy reliance on river transport for goods, including food, the Buriganga receives especially high contact with food waste. Unusable or rotting portions of fruits, vegetables, and fish are thrown into the river.
Nearly 4.0 million people of the city are exposed to the consequences of water pollution every day.
The government has been criticized for its inability or unwillingness to stop the industrial units of the city from releasing untreated waste into the water.
This video clip, prepared by BDINN team, is an attempted to create awareness to save the Buriganga and other rivers from extreme pollution.