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Urgent action needed to save the rivers from pollution

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30th-May-2019       
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INTERNATIONAL media on Monday reported that hundreds of sites in rivers around the world including in Bangladesh are polluted with antibiotics that exceed environmental safety thresholds by up to 300 times, according to research unveiled at a conference Monday. Scientists found one or more common antibiotics in two-thirds of 711 samples taken from rivers in 72 countries, they told a meeting of environmental toxicologists in Helsinki. The researchers said in dozens of locations, concentrations of the drugs -- used to fight off bacterial infection in people and livestock -- exceeded safety levels set by the AMR Industry Alliance, a grouping of more than 100 biotech and pharmaceutical companies. At one location in Bangladesh, concentrations of another widely used antibiotic, metronidazole, were 300 times above the limit, they added.
"The results are quite eye opening and worrying, demonstrating the widespread contamination of river systems around the world with antibiotic compounds," Alistair Boxall, a scientist at the York environmental Sustainability Institute, said. The World Health Organisation has warned that the world is running out of antibiotics that still work, and has called on industry and governments to urgently develop a new generation of drugs.
In the context of Bangladesh, we believe, the actual situation is much more dangerous. Country has about 230 small and large rivers. But most of them are highly polluted. We don't need to go too far. A recent World Bank study said four major rivers near Dhaka - the Buriganga, Shitalakhya, Turag and Balu - receive 1.5 million cubic metres of waste water every day from 7,000 industrial units in surrounding areas and another 0.5 million cubic metres from other sources. Besides, dumping of medicinal waste and waste of river passengers has compounded the problem, making the water unusable for humans and livestock. In many cases, they patronise the bad practice.  Researchers have unveiled that the pollutants have eaten up all oxygen in these rivers. We can call the rivers biologically dead-these are like septic tanks.
What's unfortunate to us is that, all these bad things -dumping of medical and industrial wastes along with encroachment and other abuses - occur in full knowledge of the authorities concerned.


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