Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Buriganga River

The Buriganga River also known as "Old Ganges") is the main river flowing beside Dhaka city, capital of Bangladesh. The average depth is 39 feet (12 m) and maximum depth is 93 feet (28 m).


In the distant past, a course of the Ganges river used to reach the Bay of Bengal through the Dhaleshwari river. This course gradually shifted and ultimately lost its link with the main channel of the Ganges and was renamed as the Buriganga. It is said that the water levels during high and low tides in this river astonished the Mughals.The water tables even is very astonishing due to pollution of polythenes deposited beneath water. The materials from breaking of buildings of the river banks also add hazardous substances in the river.

The course of the Padma has changed considerably during the period 1600 to 2000 AD. It is difficult to trace accurately the various channels through which it has flowed. The probability is that it flowed past Rampur Boalia, through Chalan Beel, the Dhaleshwari and Buriganga rivers, past Dhaka into the Meghna estuary. In the 18th century, the lower course of the river flowed further south. About the middle of the 19th century the main volume of the channel flowed through this southern channel which came to be known as Kirtinasa. Gradually the Padma adopted its present course.

Economic significance:

The Buriganga is economically very important to Dhaka. Launches and Country Boats provide connection to the other parts of Bangladesh, a largely riverine country. Due to siltation, large steamers can no longer go through the river channel in the dry season. In 1989, a bridge (the Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge) was built over the river for vehicles and pedestrians. In 2001, a second bridge over the river was built at Babubazar for vehicles and pedestrians.


The Buriganga is threatened by pollution and possession.

Unfortunately, the river is Dhaka's main outlet of sewage waste. Newspaper articles in 2004 [2] indicated that up to 80% of Dhaka's sewage was untreated. A number of industries, including tanneries also discharge their chemical waste in to the river.

Waterflow in the Buriganga is low except during the monsoon season. During this flood period the river is "flushed" every year. It gets progressively worse until the next monsoons. Miraculously, when the water quality is not at its worst, River dolphins can still be seen. The Ganges River Dolphin is on IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species.

Land grabbing is a serious issue in Dhaka. The Buriganga is also a casualty. River land is reclaimed and built upon. This river bed loss of course means a narrower river bed which exacerbates flooding.

In an effort to reduce flooding, the river is often dredged. Ironically, this results in the branching rivers and canals drying up, which are subjected to further land grabbing.

Organisations like 'Buriganga Bachao Andolon' (Save Buriganga) have sprung up to address these issues.

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