The Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) has sent a legal notice to the government demanding an initiative within 10 days to decontaminate 54 rivers of the country including the Buriganga, Brahmaputra, Shitalakshya and the Turag rivers.
Bela Chief Executive, Advocate Syeda Rizwana Hasan told reporters that a writ petition would be filed with the High Court if no action was taken within the stipulated time.
The notice sought the formulation of a time-bound action plan to decontaminate the polluted rivers, she added.
The notice called for identification of sources of pollution, preparation of a full list of polluters and the prevention of pollution, appropriate punishment for the polluters, bringing them under the law, and declaring highly polluted rivers an environmental crisis to ensure maintenance and management accordingly.
The notice was sent on Monday to the secretaries for environment, industries, shipping, land, fisheries and animal resources, water resources, agriculture, finance and public administration ministries, the secretary of the local government department, chairman of the National River Protection Commission, the inspector general of police, DG of Bangladesh Water Development Board, the DG of the environment department, and the chairman of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority.
BELA sent the notice after identifying the polluted rivers from research by various government agencies and individual investigations and news published in newspapers.
These research efforts have revealed the severity of pollution in six rivers of Dhaka and its adjacent areas. The rivers are Buriganga, Turag, Balu, Shitalakshya, Dhaleshwari, and Meghna. Furthermore, there are excessive metals in the waters of the Karnaphuli in Chattogram, the Karatoa, Teesta, Atrai and the Padma rivers in the north of the country, and the Kirtankhola, Rupsha and Lower Meghna rivers in the south of the country, destroying soil fertility. Because water from these rivers is being used for agricultural irrigation, excessive heavy metals enter the human body through food and pose a serious health risk.
The researchers also found that the Lower Kumar, Dhaleshwari, Balu, Suti, Paruli and Chilai rivers have become unusable for aquatic animals and plants due to industrial pollution.