Buriganga: Polluted to a poisonous river
The systematic annihilation of Buriganga had begun three decades ago by indiscriminately dumping all types of wastes into the river. Over the years, colour of the river water has turned from grey, brown and now to pitch black. Not to mention the aquatic life of the river has become near extinct.
Moreover, the stench coming out of the water makes it difficult to breathe for passengers and dwellers of river's adjacent areas. However, washing plants have been identified as the biggest culprits. A little over three months ago the High Court (HC) directed the Department of Environment (DoE) to take necessary action against 30 washing plants in Keraniganj that have been polluting the Buriganga River. Back then we had welcomed the HC's ruling over the matter, but contamination continues unabated.
These 30 identified washing plants in Keraniganj area continue polluting the river's water and environment and in violation of court directives. Severe pollution is also killing fishes of the river, and with that the livelihoods of local fishermen. Moreover, Over 30,000 cubic metre of unfiltered wastewater from more than 100 other printing, knitting and dyeing factories in Shyampur flows into the Buriganga daily adding to existing woes.
No short of a mystery, DoE had shut down numerable factories and washing plants twice before, but they resumed operations by exhibiting a sheer defiance to the law of the land.
Nevertheless, in the midst of an organised pollution of the river, authority concerned for cleaning up the river, Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (WASA) declared last month, it will take at least 9 more years to clean the river's water by stopping the sewage from directly flowing into the river. Simultaneously, it was over a decade ago, in May of 2010 that the writ petition in question was filed by the organisation Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (HRPB).
In today's Bangladesh, it takes a decade to issue a HC directive to save a river, and another decade to clean it up. We, however, take WASA's projection on cleaning Buringanga with a pinch of salt. Moreover, setting up such timeframe is unrealistic since pollution cannot be stopped.
Repeated delays in taking action against polluting industries may seem insignificant compared to how much profit is made by their owners, but at the same time it is important to remember that each hour of delay is fast converting polluted water to lethal poison. The incurring pollution may well become irreversible, unless prompt actions are taken to stop pollution.
Needless to mention, nature's revenge is deadly and uncompromising.