A POORLY functional and incomplete central effluent treatment plant at the Savar Leather Estate has left the River Dhaleswari and its environment to be polluted, jeopardising public health. Most of the tanneries from Hazaribagh have relocated to the estate at Savar, in efforts to save the River Buriganga that spanned a decade and a half, beginning in 2017. The authorities have failed to complete the tannery estate and its effluent treatment plant and to provide the required facilities for the tanneries adversely affecting not only the environment but also leather export. The situation looks bleak after Eid-ul-Azha as tanneries have had more processing of the rawhide collected after Eid. The yet-to-be-completed central effluent treatment plant, meant to process 25,000 cubic metres of waste a day, now overflows with daily waste discharge estimated to be more than 40,000 cubic metres. The poor waste management also keeps most of the reputed buyers from buying leather from Bangladesh, resulting in a sharp decline in rawhide prices.
The estate is also reported to be failing to provide some other facilities for the tanners while tanners, in some cases, are too responsible for poor waste management. The authorities have so far missed eight deadlines since 2014 to complete the central effluent treatment plant and discipline solid waste management, which were meant to be done in a year and a half. The plant is still being readied with equipment and facilities yet to be installed while nothing has been done for solid waste management. Even though only 123 of the 154 tanneries have been in production, that too partially, the estate fails to tackle the waste. The situation will worsen for the Dhaleswari, further jeopardising public health, once all the tanneries go into full production. The quality of effluent treatment is also reported hampered as the required chemicals and equipment imported from China, now lying with customs authorities because of some complications, are yet to reach the plant. This suggests a lack of coordination among the government agencies concerned. Tanners are also said not to have been properly trained to manage their wastes before their discharge into the treatment plant.
The government must, therefore, complete all the tasks of waste management and treatment without delay to make the leather estate function properly and, thus, to stop the pollution of the river and the environment. An early completion of the central effluent treatment plant is a must and the construction of another treatment plant could be considered. But for all this, the relocation of tanneries from Hazaribagh to Savar would be a sheer waste of public money.
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