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Solid wastes still litter open spaces

Environmentalists call effectiveness of relocation into question

Solid wastes from the tannery industrial park at Savar are posing a serious threat to the surrounding areas as the government still remains undecided about how to dispose of the wastes generated from the leather processing industries even 15 years after the project was taken.Local people have complained that roads and other open spaces inside the under-construction tannery industrial park have become a dumping yard where the tanners throw toxic wastes haphazardly.The tanners have, however, blamed the government for the mismanagement and alleged that as the government has not yet readied any dumping facilities there for them, they have no way but to dump the solid wastes in the open.The project director, Ziaul Haque, told New Age that the complexity arose for faulty project planning, with the city corporation responsible for final disposal of solid wastes after they were dumped in a yard inside the park.But, he said, Dhaka North City Corporation finally declined to take the responsibilities as the wastes contained heavy and toxic elements.He informed that the government was now trying to get the wastes managed by private firm which would make gelatin and compost by recycling the solid wastes.Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology professor Delwar Hossain, team leader of the group of consultants for the project, said that they were examining the proposals from different private companies for disposal of the solid wastes but they were yet to make a decision in this regard. According to the project proposal placed in 2003, the government had committed to building a dumping yard on 10 acres of land at a cost of Tk 4.75 crore for dumping tannery solid wastes.But the construction of the dumping yard still remained in paper, leading the estimated cost to be almost double in 2013, as per officials.But the project proposal had no mention of any plan about safe disposal of the solid wastes from the industry. During visits to the tannery park, a pond on the south-western corner of the estate was found full with solid wastes while the spot was earmarked for a dumping yard.No mechanism of solid waste management was found inside the tannery park where the tanners were dumping solid wastes in open spaces including drains and roads.Local people of Harindhara, Jhauchar and Jam Jam City have complained that they cannot use the roads running by the pond where the wastes are dumped while it has become difficult for them to stay in their houses due to bad smell of the wastes.Environmentalists have raised question about the effectiveness of the tannery relocation when the high-cost project is posing the same threat to the environment and put public health at great risk.One of the main roads of tannery estate adjacent to central effluent treatment plant was found fully blocked with the solid wastes.Locals have alleged that the tannery people have released solid waste from the pond into the adjacent River Dhaleshwari several times when the pond becomes full. Bangladesh Tanners Association chairman Shaheen Ahamed blamed the government for not yet readying the park for production.According to the agreement signed between the tanners and the government, he said, the government was responsible for solid waste management.Roughly 170 tonnes of solid wastes are generated from the tanneries every day.The government in 2003, following a court order, took the project for relocating 155 tanneries from the capital’s Hazaribagh to Savar to stop pollutions.According to the court order, the government acquired 200 acres of land at Savar, only 25 kilometres from the capital, for building an environment-friendly modern industrial park for the second highest foreign currency earning export-oriented industry. The government extended the project duration time and again but most of the components including central effluent treatment plant are yet to be functional.


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