Hope for an ecologically friendly tannery industrial park at Savar in the outskirts of Dhaka was fading as pollutions from the leather factories were continuing since they were relocated from the capital’s Hazaribagh area, said green activists on Monday.
Addressing a press conference, they blamed the implementing agency for not incorporating important components like salt separation and solid waste management in the tannery relocation project, which were now causing pollutions in the river Dhaleshwari at Savar.
Bangladesh Poribesh Andolan and Buriganga Riverkeeper jointly organised the conference at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity.
The speakers also argued that the tannery relocation plan was faulty for not having enough experts in it as well as corruption in the project implementation.
Pollution would never stop even after fully implementing the project while many elements of the plan were not installed properly due to corruption, said BAPA general secretary Abdul Matin.
Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation has been implementing the project for the second highest foreign currency earning industry of the country since 2003 for relocating 155 Hazaribagh tanneries as they polluted the capital.
Tannery Industrial Park project director Ziaul Haque said that the lacking was not identified even in the feasibility study. He added that they had now initiated a measure to solve the solid waste crisis by allowing them to be recycled by private farms.
Roughly 12,000 cubic metres of untreated effluents from 67 tannery factories at the tannery park are now dumped into the Dhaleshwari River every day while several tonnes of solid wastes are also dumped in a pond at southern part of the park.
BAPA vice-president Sayed Abul Maksud blamed the failure on the BSCIC for the incomplete plan and the tanners for their irresponsibility.
He said, ‘If the government even takes proper initiatives now, pollution may be reduced, but will not stop.’
He criticised the project plan as it did not address the park’s drainage system properly and also lacked facilities, including hospital, school and residence, for the workers.
Bangladesh Tanners’ Association chairman Shaheen Ahmed said that they had not been involved at the implementation stage of the project. ‘We had nothing to do,’ he said.
The High Court Division on Wednesday summoned the Chinese CETP contractor Jiangsu Lingzhi Environmental Protection Co Ltd and its Bangladesh agent following allegations that untreated tannery effluents were being released into the Dhaleshwari River and asked them to explain their failure.
Before cutting off utility services at the Hazaribagh tanneries on April 8, the BSCIC repeatedly said that they had completed everything at Savar but the tanners delayed to relocate their industries.
The inhabitants of Harindhara and Jhawchar, two villages adjacent to the tanner park, have been expressing fears that the Dhaleshwari pollution would increase after Eid-ul-Azha when processing of hides and skin of sacrificial animals would increase manifold.
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