Turning Brahmaputra into a dumping zone
The dumping of garbage by Mymensingh municipal authorities into the Old Brahmaputra River at Kalibari Puran Gudaraghat has become a menace for residents and a serious threat to the already dying river's health.
Offloading garbage into the river has been going on for over a decade now, affecting the quality of life of around 1,600 families living in adjacent areas as well as 300 students studying at schools and colleges.
The 283-kilometre Old Brahmaputra from Jamalpur's Dewanganj upazila to the Meghna in Bhairab of Kishoreganj is one of the longest rivers of the country.
Many tributaries and small rivers dependent on the Brahmaputra are also in crisis due to siltation, allege environmental activists.
Advocate Md Nazrul Islam Chunnu, convener of a civil society forum Jonouddog, directly pointed fingers at the municipal authorities behind the river pollution.
"The authorities concerned are letting this menace continue despite continuous protests from concerned citizens," he noted.
Although the disposal of waste into the Brahmapurtra stopped for a while after the issue grabbed mainstream attention some years ago, it resumed shortly after the heat cooled off.
Following protests by locals, the garbage carrying trucks are not seen during the day anymore. The trucks visit the area at night now, said Anis Mia, a resident of the area.
"Our continuous protests have been falling into the deaf ears," he added.
On the other side of the Brahmaputra Bridge lies the dedicated spot for garbage dumping -- Moilakanda at Char Kalibari.
But truck drivers avoid the bridge for traffic congestion, which may take up to two hours to cross, and prefer to dump at the Old Ferry Ghat instead, according to locals.
"We submitted memorandum to the deputy commissioner of Mymensingh and municipal mayor several times urging to stop garbage dumping into the river but no permanent action was taken yet," said Advocate Shibbir Ahmed Liton, secretary of Mymensingh Poribesh Rokhha O Unnayan Andolon.
Contacted, conservation inspector of Mymensingh municipality Mohabbat Al said around 500 tonnes of garbage are produced in the city daily and they can manage 380 tonnes.
"I have no information regarding garbage dumping into the river and we will investigate these serious allegations," he added.
Deputy director of the Department of Environment in Mymensingh Nur Alam also said he is not aware of the river pollution.