Home Business Tanneries now ruining Dhaleshwari

Tanneries now ruining Dhaleshwari

Lack of proper waste management blamed

Though the relocation of tanneries from city’s Hazaribagh to Savar has saved the Buriganga River from pollution, toxic waste from the tanneries is now contaminating the Dhaleshwari River and the areas adjacent to the new tannery estate.Locals and experts said liquid waste dumped by the tanneries into the Dhaleshwari River is causing acute pollution, causing fish kills, affecting the biodiversity of the river and posing serious health hazards for local people.Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC), a wing of the Ministry of Industries, has relocated the tanneries on the 200-acre ‘Tannery Estate’ at Jhauchar village in Tetuljhara union of Savar on the bank of the Dhaleshwari River.“One hundred and two 102 out of 155 units have already started operation in the new Tannery Estate,” Ziaul Haque, project director of the Savar Tannery Estate told the daily sun.During a visit to the tannery estate last week, untreated wastewater from the tannery estate was seen running into the Dhaleshwari River through two big drains and two water pipes.This correspondent also saw that chemical-mixed water from the tanneries was being discharged to the river directly through non-rigid drains, secretly from the dumping yard.The polluted water is also being discharged into the river from the CETP (Common Effluent Treatment Plant) through three big pipes as the CETP is not fully functional yet, said an official of the BSCIC tannery estate.    Talking to the daily sun, Abu Taher, a fisherman in the Jhauchar area, said his livelihood has been severely affected as there is almost no fish in this part of the Dhaleshwari River due to pollution caused by tannery waste.“A few days ago, the water of the Dhaleshwari River became so toxic that many dead fish and other aquatic insects were found floating in the water.We have repeatedly protested against the pollution but the authorities of the tannery estate did not do anything other than giving assurance to address this issue,” said Billal Hossain, a resident of the area.Admitting that the tanneries waste is causing pollution in Dhaleshwari River, Ziaul Haque said, “We are facing various problems. The CETP is not fully functional yet.But we are trying our best to save the river water from pollution.”He claimed that the toxic effluent is being released from the tanneries as the tanners are yet to install nets in their sedimentation tanks. He said they have been repeatedly instructing the tannery owners verbally and issuing letters to make these arrangements to save the river from hazardous waste.An official of the tannery estate said of the four CETP modules, two are operating partially and two others are totally inactive. Besides, the sludge thickening tank, reaction tank and dewatering tank are not functioning yet.   Asked about this issue, Shaheen Ahamed, president of Bangladesh Tanners Association (BTA), alleged that the tannery estate authorities are shifting the blame to hide their failure in managing the leather industrial park.“They can not make the CETP operational and do not have any proper waste management system either,” he alleged.He claimed that as per the High Court direction, they are taking all necessary measures for protecting the environment from pollution. He said they have set up water sedimentation tank, installing desalting machine and nets to release treated effluent from their tanneries.Mentioning that there is a lack of coordination in absence of skilled tannery experts, Shaheen Ahamed said the authorities did not complete the construction of roads inside the tannery estate while the wastewater is being piled up on roads since the CETP is still not functional.  Talking to the daily sun, a tannery owner wishing anonymity said the test run of CETP has been underway for long but the authorities can not make it functional.Subol Bose Moni, director (Dhaka region) of Department of Environment (DoE), said, “We are repeatedly asking the BSCIC to save the Dhaleshwari River from pollution caused by the tannery waste.”Sources said two CETP modules having the capacity to recycle around 12,500 cubic meter wastes per day are operating partially. The entire CETP system will be able to process a maximum of 25,000 cubic meters of waste per day if it runs at full capacity.“But the tanneries in the Savar tannery estate will discharge at least 40,000-45,000 cubic metre of waster water a day during the peak season,” the BTA president said.Sharif Jamil, coordinator of Waterkeeper Bangladesh, also the joint secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) told the daily sun, “This will cause the wastewater to overflow and pollute the Dhaleshwari River.”The deadline given to the Chinese firm Jiangsu Lingzhi Environment Protection Ltd for finishing the CETP project was August 25, 2017, the Savar tannery estate sources added.The tannery relocation project sources said a total of Tk 175.75 crore was allocated in 2003 for the tannery park after the HC directed relocation of the tanneries from Hazaribagh within two years following a writ petition filed by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association.The project was scheduled to be completed by December 2005. However, the construction schedule was later extended to June 2010 and the tenure of the project was extended at least five times which resulted in a hike in project cost to Tk 1,078.71 crore in 2016.


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