The six rivers surrounding Dhaka, which once served as a lifeline to the city, are now on the path to extinction. The Buriganga, Shitalakhya, Dhaleswari, Turag, Balu and Bangshi are choked with pollution and encroachment.
The city of Dhaka began developing on the banks of the Buriganga river about 400 years ago. With the passage of time, the river has lost its vitality. The Buriganga has become so polluted by human and industrial wastes that even fishes have gone missing from the river. Encroachers have been occupying its two banks for years, which has obstructed the flow of the river.
The Shitalakhya river flows through the eastern side of Dhaka city. There was a time when people used to be mesmerised by its beauty. The muslin industry developed around this river. Now, the water is so polluted that it has become difficult to live near its banks during the winter. Various industries have sprung up on both of its banks over the years. The chemical waste from these factories is the main cause of river pollution. Influential encroachers have also occupied the two river banks.
Due to pollution, the water of the Dhaleswari river flowing through the western part of Dhaka city has lost its colour. Tannery factories have relocated from Dhaka's Hazaribagh to Savar and have been polluting the river by dumping solid and liquid wastes directly into the river. Contaminated water from the common effluent treatment plant in the tanneries is also being released into the river. Influential encroachers have also grabbed both of its banks.
The Turag, which flows past Dhaka city, is now a dying river. Chemical effluents from cities and factories have multiplied the level of river water pollution. Hundreds of brickfields and factories have sprung up on the two banks of the river. The condition of the Turag has become so deplorable due to pollution and occupation that it looks like a dead canal in certain areas during the winter season.
The Balu river on the north-eastern side of Dhaka is in danger of dying. During the monsoon, the river carries water from the Shitalakhya and Turag. But the water level decreases in winter. The river has now become a centre for pollution due to factories and people dumping waste matter on both sides of the river.
The Bangshi river flowing past Savar, which once boasted strong currents, is now on the verge of extinction due to occupation and pollution. Factories and commercial establishments are being set up on both of its banks. Waste matter from hundreds of factories is polluting the river water.