Pollution from the Tannery Industrial Park, still under construction at Savar, would increase after Eid-ul-Azha.
A half of annual rawhide collection for processing takes place during the festival of sacrifice.
Green activists told New Age that pollution from the tannery park would increase manifold after the festival as the authorities failed to put in place chrome recovery unit in the Central Effluent Treatment Plant and the solid waste dumping yard, as in the plan.
In the absence of the CETP’s chrome recovery unit, they said, untreated effluents with chromium is continually released into the Dhalesawri River.
They said that in the absence of the dumping yard, solid tannery waste from the park ‘is dumped’ into an open pond on the southern side of the tannery park from where the wastes are released into the Dhalesawri.
Moreover, locals said, strong odor from the open
pond made their life unbearable.
Environmentalist blamed Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation, the tannery park implementing agency for the lapses.
According to BSCIC’s tannery park project officials, at normal times over 25,000 cubic meter of liquid waste and several tonnes of solid wastes are released by 113 tanneries daily.
At least 10 times more untreated wastes would be released from the tannery park in the 2nd and 3rd week after the festival.
Delwar Hossain, BUET civil engineering professor and head of the team of tannery project monitoring experts said that they already informed the BSCIC about the situation.
But BSCIC took no interest to address the issues, he told New Age.
Since tannery factories were shifted to the park, he said tonnes of solid waste had been dumped daily into an open pond on the southern side of the park making local people’s life unbearable by foul smell.
Waste water mixed with chromium is released from the park as the CETP does not have the chrome separation unit.
Chrome mixed waste water is released through a pipeline and solid waste is also released through same pipeline which should not happen, he said.
As a result, he said, solid waste blocks the pipeline for which it overflows frequently.
Delwar blamed contractors for not operating generators during load-shedding as a result waste water can’t be pumped out for which also it gets into the open drain linked to the Dhalesawri River.
He said that the open drain had been put in place only for draining out rain water.
The generators had been left idle, he said.
Delwar Hossain expressed fears that increasing pollution would affect the areas around the tannery park unless the issues were speedily addressed with due seriousness.
Officials said that the deadlock was created due to failure to complete the tanner park as the letter of credit for importing the needed machinery could not be opened.
In July, the Bangladesh Environment Lawyers Association, better known as BELA, took the issue to the court.
The court suspects that the LC could not be opened by the project’s Chinese contractor as it wants to import materials not relevant for the tannery park project.
BELA chief executive and lawyer Syeda Rizwana Hasan called releasing untreated effluents into the Dhaleswari River as a matter of serious concern.
Rizwana said that pollution could not be brought to an end due to the government’s failure to complete the construction of the tannery park despite extending the deadline for completion time and again.
Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leather Goods and Footwear Exporters Association chairman Mohiuddin Ahmed Mahin said that 50 per cent of annual raw hide collection comes from the animals sacrificed during Eid-ul-Azha.
Now, he said leather export from Bangladesh fell by 45 per cent due to the government’s failure to provide pollution free hide processing facilities.
He said no new buyers could be attracted when the old buyers left Bangladesh due to the poor condition of its tannery industry.
Industries ministry secretary Muhammad Abdullah said they have formed a committee consisting of BSCIC officials, tanners’ representatives and experts for checking pollution during Eid.
‘We will accept one of the four proposals for solid waste management soon,’ he said.
Muhammad Abdullah hoped that they would ensure a green tannery park by June 2019, the new deadline of the project completion.
During several visits, New Age found tannery wastes scattered inside the park and dumping of liquid wastes into the Dhaleswari River through the pipelines meant for draining out rainwaters.
The Department of Livestock Services expects that around 1.12 crore animals, 45 lakh of them cows and buffaloes and 1.4 lakh goats, lambs and other animals would be sacrificed during this year’s Eid-ul-Azha.
In 2003, the government took the Tk 1,078.71crore project for the construction of the Tannery Industrial Park at Savar for relocating tannery factories from Hazaribagh.
Tk 477 crore was allocated for setting the CETP and the dumping yard.