Toxic Life-Lines of Dhaka If Dhaka is the heart of Bangladesh, then the rivers around it are its blood vessels. Water is life and the rivers around Dhaka are the life-lines of the city. It is quite amazing to see the activities along the major veins with so much happening in and around the waters. We have people coming in from other villages selling their vegetables along the shores; fishermen bringing their catch of the day in for sale; bricks being transported from upriver for new building, and people coming in from villages to work every day. Unfortunately, the waters here are also Dhaka’s main outlets for industrial and sewage waste. Solvents and chemicals from large shipyards recycling old ships, toxic run-offs from tanneries and other industries all flow into these waters. In fact the waters in the rivers around Dhaka are so polluted and toxic that no marine life can live in them. Yet there are people working in the water with their bare skin and worst yet, there are young children playing and bathing in that same water. Many of the urban poor use this same water daily to bath, to brush their teeth, and to wash their clothes and dishes. Thus the rivers of Dhaka bring life to the city providing food, water, transportation, and work but at the same time, they also bring disease, illness and death to the many city urban poor who live along its banks and depend on these waters in their daily lives.