Clean Up Polluted River That Over 100 Million People Rely On

Target: Anisul Islam Mahmud, Bangladesh’s Minister of Water Resources

Goal: Reduce pollution in the Brahmaputra River in order to improve Bangladesh’s environment and the health of its people.

The Brahmaputra River is one of Asia’s most important rivers, originating in Tibet and crossing the boundaries of China, India, and Bangladesh before flowing out to sea. For the nation of Bangladesh, the Brahmaputra provides water for millions of people in what is one of the world’s most densely populated countries, its delta a home for over 100 million individuals.

However, it is also seriously polluted: much of Bangladesh’s industrial, agricultural, and municipal wastewater is directly injected into the river with little or no treatment. According to a report from India’s Center for Science and Environment entitled, “River pollution in Bangladesh: Unabated atrocity on people’s right to safe water,” the Brahmaputra is one of the most polluted rivers in Bangladesh, being mainly affected by chemical pollution. Much of this pollution comes in the form of waste produced during petroleum refining.

The effects of this pollution are only made worse by the increasing incidence of river flooding, caused in part by deforestation in the Brahmaputra’s delta (which leads to soil erosion), poor drainage systems, and climate change, which continues to change nationwide rain patterns while also raising sea levels on Bangladesh’s coast.

While the effect that polluted water has on the people of Bangladesh is undeniable and plain for all to see, less noticed though equally troubling is the threat it poses to the ecosystem. The South Asian river dolphin (Platanista gangetica), for example, which is primarily found in both the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers, is considered endangered and continues to be adversely affected by the rising levels of pollution in those rivers.


Dear Minister Mahmud,

The Brahmaputra River is one of your country’s most important rivers, and certainly one of the most important rivers in Asia. While less polluted than other major rivers in the region, the Brahmaputra suffers from an alarmingly high level of chemical and other pollutants, with regular flooding and erosion only compounding this issue.

The increasing levels of contaminants in the river directly affect the health of the Bangladeshi people, as well as that of their environment.

Parts of the river, whose name means “son of Brahma” (Brahma is the deity of creation in Hinduism), are sacred to Hindus. Sacred as it may be, we believe the Brahmaputra should be treated as such—that the government of Bangladesh should reduce pollution in the river in order to improve the health of both its environment and people.

Thank you.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Shreya Ramakrishnan

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  1. It’s abhorrent that the industries are getting increasingly ever richer while polluting this river and endangering the health and lives of everyone living there. The big corporations causing this pollution should be the ones to pay for the cleanup of this river.


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