September 7, 2010

Flowing through the heart of Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, the Buriganga River has story to tell. It has always been vibrant, full of life, the center of commercial activity, but extremely polluted. 40,000 tons of untreated industrial wastes together with 80 percent of the city’s sewage are released daily into the Buriganga, making most of the river biologically dead. Its water has turned black and thick like glue; however thousands of people living along the river have little or no choice but to depend on the Buriganga to wash, bathe, and even drink.

In a new exhibition at the Columbia University School of Social Work entitled “River Bleeds Black: Pollution of the Buriganga in Bangladesh”, Bangladeshi photographer Shehzad Noorani documents the Buriganga River, while at the same time raising awareness to the idea that developing countries need to pollute to escape poverty is just an excuse for moving polluting industries from one place to another. Through his photograph, Noorani is able to portray the harsh conditions and environmental consequences of developing industries struggling to survive on orders from the big Western manufactures. 

The exhibition is part of the Open Society Institute’s “Moving Walls” series. The exhibit is located on the fourth floor of the School of Social Work building (1255 Amsterdam Avenue) and is open to the public Monday through Friday from 10:00am-3:00pm. For more information about the exhibition, please contact Jeannie Hii at 212-851-2327 or, or visit

About the Photographer

Shehzad Noorani is a professional freelance photographer who has a deep interest in social issues that affect the lives of millions of people in developing countries. He has covered major stories resulting from man-made and natural disasters in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Sri Lanka, and Sudan. Hired by UNICEF in Bangladesh, Noorani has been to over 30 countries in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. His photography has been exhibited and featured in major international magazines and publications around the world. His work “Daughters of Darkness,” an in-depth documentary on the lives of commercial sex workers in South Asia, has received the Mother Jones International Award for Documentary Photographer. He has also received an honorable mention from the National Geographic’s All Roads Photography Program for his project: “The Children of Black Dust.” 

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