Around three decades ago, the Mathabhanga River flowing beside Chuandanga district town was clean.
People used to bathe in the river. But now, the foul smelling water of the river bothers people who live near it or travel through it.
Badsha Miah, a resident of Daulatdia Para in the town, said, "During our childhood, we used to take baths in the river. The water was clean then. But now the Mathabhanga water has assumed a dark black colour. It smells foul too. We have stopped bathing in the river in fear of catching skin diseases."
About 30 years ago, the Chuadanga municipality introduced a drainage system, which leads to the river. Since then, all sewage from the town empties into the Mathabhanga River.
The river bank has also become a dumping zone for garbage.
Hamidul Haque Munshi, convener of the Mathabhanga Nodi Bachao Andolon (Movement to Save the Mathabhanga River), said, "The municipality has been dumping sewage and garbage, including poultry wastes, polythene and plastic bottles, into Mathabhanga River.
"Besides, all the garbage generated in the town are also dumped on the river bank. Now the river has lost its navigability. Its width has shrunk too," said Hamidul.
Leaders of the river saving platform said treating the wastewater could be one of the solutions to the problem.
"People living on the banks of the Mathabhanga River have been suffering from various skin diseases," said Dr Shamim Kabir, resident medical officer of Chuadanga Sadar Hospital.
When asked about the pollution, Chuadanga Municipality Mayor Obaidur Rahman Chowdhury Jipu said the municipality lacks garbage dumping stations.
"We have long been trying to dump garbage at a specified place outside the town. Besides, water treatment is costly. The municipality itself cannot do it without the assistance from the government. So, right now we do not have any other option than to dump sewage into the river."
He added that recently, the government sent several municipal mayors to Malaysia to get first-hand experience regarding water treatment plants.
"I was in the group. We believe that the government will implement such a water treatment project in Chuadanga soon. Then there will be no more river pollution," he added.
Nazrul Islam Sarker, deputy commissioner of the district, said a long-term project will be undertaken to prevent the river pollution.
"Steps will be taken to ensure dumping of sewage and garbage of the town in a specific area. We have no alternative but to save the river," he stated.
The Mathabhanga River originated from the Ganges at Jalangi of Murshidabad district, West Bengal. It crosses Bangladeshi territory through Ramkrishnapur in Daulatpur upazila of Kushtia.
The 121-kilometre river flows through Kushtia, Meherpur and Chuadanga.