While we are now celebrating 400 years of Dhaka City, the River Buriganga, which has played a vital role in its growth, is fighting to survive. Today it is being choked to death, extremely fragile and unable to run its natural course. We, the people of Dhaka, are killing it. Dhaka's population is growing day by day. The Buriganga is the most popular way of commuting to other parts of the country. Various factories and industries are still being set up along the river. Chemicals discharged by tanneries, sewage and industrial waste are also dumped directly into the water. Nearly 700 brickfields on the riverside, dockyards and used engine oil from boats and steamers add to this pollution.
This 41 km long river that flows through Dhaka once blessed us with hopes and dreams of building a new city. But today, the city itself is causing the death of the Buriganga.
Rasel Chowdhury, born in Bangladesh in 1988, is based in Dhaka. His work has been published in numerous media outlets, exhibited internationally and awarded the Ian Parry Scholarship, Getty Image Emergent Artist Award and the Magnum Expression Award. Chowdhury says 'I started photography without a conscious plan initially, eventually becoming addicted and deciding to document spaces in and around my birthplace, Bangladesh. I started documenting a dying river Buriganga, a lifeless city Sonargaon, an old people's home, a flood in Bangladesh, mega-city Dhaka and newly transformed spaces around the Bangladesh railway in order to explore the changing environment, unplanned urban structures and the new form of landscapes. At the same time, I started to develop my own visual expression as a documentary photographer to address my subjects with a distinctive look.'
'I spent most of my life around the river and have a close relationship with it. My role is to show how the Buriganga is rapidly changing from every possible angle. I started this project in 2010. After 4 years it's already changed a lot and through the Syngenta Photography Award I wish to make larger audiences aware of this environmental issue. Communicating this subject through my photography is very important to me.'