Seven of the nine organic pollutants, which are banned around the world, are still being used in Bangladesh, said environmental activists at a press conference on the occasion of International Day of Action for Rivers 2021 on Saturday.
The nine organic pollutants are Aldrin, chlordane, DDT, Dieldrin, Endrin, Heptachlor, Hexachlor Benzene, Mirex and Tamoxifen. These were banned in 1998.
Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA), Waterkeepers Bangladesh, National River Alliance and National River Saving Movement jointly organised the press conference titled "Save Rivers by Freeing Them from Occupation and Pollution, Save Bangladesh."
Dr Abdul Matin, coordinator of the National River Saving Movement and executive vice-president of BAPA, delivered the keynote address at the press conference chaired by Sharmin Murshid, convener of the National River Alliance.
BAPA President Sultana Kamal and former chairman of the National River Conservation Commission (NRCC) Dr Muzibur Rahman Howlader also spoke at the programme.
Dr Abdul Matin said, "According to a government study conducted in 2008, factories are the main source of river pollution in our country. From these, various chronic toxic liquid pollutants continue to cause unlimited damage to the environment."
"The prime minister has repeatedly expressed her firm commitment to protect the rivers. The NRCC has been formed, but they are not able to do much due to lack of executive power. We need a strong river commission with executive power," she said.
"Our High Court has declared the river as a living entity, so it is the responsibility of all of us, including the government, to ensure the right of this entity," he added.
BAPA President Sultana Kamal said, "The rivers, nature and civilization are inextricably linked with the mankind. There is no alternative to the river to sustain human civilisation. Rivers are the resources of the country and it is the responsibility of the government to protect the resources of the country."
"I hope these demands will reach the Prime Minister and he will take appropriate steps to protect these invaluable resources of the country," she added.
Sharmin Murshid, convener of the National River Alliance, said, "It takes a whole year to evict a river occupier but they occupy the rivers due to the negligence of the government and the influence of influential people. It is a matter of great sorrow and regret."