Fishes become rare as Buriganga continue to get polluted

Continuing pollution of the water of the River Buriganga has been diminishing the fishes in the river, especially during dry season. The disposal of industrial, medical and municipal wastes in the Buriganga is causing serious pollution in the river water, destroying river fishes. For nearly a hundred years, toxic tannery wastes have fount their way to the river through a natural canal at Lalbagh in the downstream, polluting a vast area, including the river. The government has taken an initiative to shift the ternary industries to Savar, but the process is so slowly that it will take one year more for implementation. The shifting of the industries from Hazaribagh will begin after the completion of infrastructural development of the 200 acres of land at Savar where the industries will be relocated, said the tannery industrial waste project director, Sohrab Hossain. The current in the river is almost non-existent and the pollution of the water has reached the extent that emits unbearable stench even by the stir of a launch propeller, especially at Sadarghat.

The Institute of Water Modelling carried out a feasibility study in 2003 funded by the Water Development Board for the augmentation of the river during dry season. It suggested immediate relocation of the Hazaribagh tanneries. The study suggested augmentation of the river by channeling water into it from other rivers. It also suggested closing down the Dholai Khal outfall and diverting the water by the existing pumps of the Pagla Sewage Treatment Plant through pipeline. But the study report is yet to come into light as the implementation process is very slow. According to the study, during summer, the entire river turns into a fish-less water body as the limit of dissolved oxygen in most river areas stands below 2 milligrams a litre because of disposal of sewage and household and untreated industrial wastes. The minimum dissolved oxygen level value of 4 to 5 milligrams a litre is considered acceptable for fisheries and aquatic life, experts said. The river produces fish only during the monsoon as the oxygen rate increases to the minimum level, with water and some fishes migrating to the river from other rivers, canals and the surrounding areas, said an official of the Water Development Board.

Usually small-sized major carps, minor carps, catfish, snakeheads, including a range of indigenous fishes, are caught in a very limited measure during two to three months of the monsoon, he said. The official said the experts of the institute had conducted the study at different river points in March 2003 and had found the water quality at Keraniganj, Gabtali Bridge, Pagla Sewage Treatment Plant outfall, Mill Barrack, Dholai Khal outfall and Nabanganj (Hazaribg) to be the worst. The oxygen level at Keraniganj was found to be only 0.50 milligram a litre, at Gabtali 0.16 milligram at litre and at Pagla 1.0 milligram a litre, he said. The water quality has been deteriorating over the years, and the rate of deterioration has increased in recent years, the study said. Source: New Age, January 18, 2006:

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