Turag pollution hits environment, livelihood hard: discussion

News Desk : dhakamirror.com

Pollution in Turag River has been affecting livelihood of those long dependent on the water body and also forcing many to look for alternative means of income, observed green activists at a programme on Thursday.

The observation came at a discussion in the city where they raised concern about river pollution that is drastically changing Turag and shrinking opportunities for people who eke out an earning from the river.

The discussion titled ‘Water-centric life and livelihoods’ was held in Mirpur’s Kaundia organised by WaterKeepers Bangladesh.

WaterKeeper’s co-ordinator and Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon general secretary Sharif Jamil moderated the event.

River and Delta Research Centre chairman Mohammad Ejaz, Bangladesh River Foundation chairman Md Monir Hossain, Amin Bazar Bridge Ghaat Workers’ Union general secretary Amjad Ali Laal and local resident Nitya Babu Rajbangshi, among others, took part in the discussion.

Besides, local fishermen and other professionals talked about how pollution in Turag has marginalised them even more.

Nitya Babu elaborated on how 5,000 families living in the adjacent five fishing villages are coping with livelihood changes caused by pollution.

‘The river used to be a huge source of fish, but pollution made it impossible for fish to survive. There will be no next generation fishermen as pollution is hitting their profession hard,’ he said.

Nitya later mentioned that many people had already changed their profession, selling labour in the locality, as their old profession as fishermen was not enough for them to survive.

Amjad Ali Laal has spent his whole life beside Turag and experienced heydays of its fishing culture.

He shed light on how, in the past, workers heavily depended on fishing-related activities.

‘Our organisation has more than 1,000 registered workers. Only a hundred of them visit the river frequently and two-thirds of them might score a job on a good day. As fishes have dried up in Turag, so are related jobs,’ he said.

Amjad added that the river became so polluted that fishes were available for only three months — September, October and November.

Mohammad Ejaz has been researching livelihoods related to rivers.

He said that more than 20 types of professions associated with Turag developed here, but those were gradually vanishing.

‘Different communities that depended on this river have been forced to change their profession. Many have been marginalised, and lost their old professional identities,’ he added.

Md Monir Hossain has been studying river population.

He said that pollution went to such an extent in river Turag that tars needed to be applied each year to the bottom of the boats while tin roofs in the nearby area must be changed annually due to pollution.

‘Four major industrial hubs around Dhaka –– Sreepur, Konabari, Tongi and Joydebpur –– severely pollute the river. Turag used to be a hub of people who lived differently off the river, but pollution has forced them to switch jobs,’ he said.

WaterKeepers Bangladesh Consortium’s anti-pollution advocacy group holds talks entitled ‘River Talkie’ on environmental issues at the core of crisis.

Yesterday (Thursday) was the 8th session of the consortium held at a place near Turag to highlight the impact of pollution on the river as well as river-centric livelihoods.

The consortium fighting environmental pollution for more than ten years is a platform in collaboration with the US Aid, Counterpart International, Jahangirnagar University’s department of geography and environment and Stamford University’s Center for Atmospheric Pollution Studies.

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