Street cleaners wearing just plastic hats as PPE swim up to their necks in garbage as they clean rivers in Dhaka

Coronavirus lockdowns around the globe have brought an epidemic of littering, not least in the UK where fly-tipping has become a scourge on the countryside.

But these brave street cleaners may have the worst job in the world as they swim neck deep in rivers of rubbish to help clean Bangladeshi canals. 

The water used to be a canal before heaps of urban waste made a land mass in the region 24 kilometres to the northwest of Bangladesh's capital.

Mountains of black bin bags, plastic bottles, empty wrappers and household waste clogged up the canal in Savar.

The Dhaleshwari, Bangshi and Turag rivers and canals under the municipalities jurisdiction have been polluted by rubbish for years.

Savar municipality cleaners have dumped domestic, plastic, medical, industrial and e-wastes at 50 spots mostly on canals and rivers, according to New Age Bangladesh.

Last year, municipality officials said they collected at least 200 tonnes of waste daily, which were dumped in lowlands connected to rivers. 

Last year, the Bangladeshi High Court declared all rivers in the country to have the same legal status as a human being in a landmark verdict.

State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said 15,175 illegal structures were removed from the port areas of the Buriganga, Turag, Balu and Shitalakkhya rivers, and 566.12 acres of encroached riverbanks were recovered.

Kabir Bin Anwar, secretary at the Water Resources Ministry, told Dhaka Tribune: 'Every district administration has worked tirelessly for a year to compile this list of illegal encroachment. 

'We have also set up a control room dedicated to this task in the ministry. 

'We will install walkways and plant trees to deter people from encroaching on these territories again.'