Relocated Tanneries: Liquid waste pollutes river

Allege Savar people in public hearing

Some locals at a public hearing in Savar yesterday alleged that the newly relocated tanneries were dumping liquid waste in the Dhaleswari river, causing water pollution and posing a health hazard for them.

Solid waste was piled up in and around the Savar Tannery Industrial Estate in a haphazard way. The stink of waste filled the air, they added.

They urged the authority to take immediate steps to stop pollution in the river which is the main source of domestic water for them.

Eight green and rights organisations in association with Community Legal Services hosted the programme at Savar Upazila Parishad's auditorium to discuss ways to save the Dhaleswari from pollution. Some 100 local residents joined the event.

The organisers are Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD), Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela), Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust, Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies, Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon, Brotee, Nijera Kori and Nodi o Poribesh Unnayan Parishad, Savar (NoPUP).

As many as 35 tanneries out of 154 were relocated to the tannery estate from the capital's Hazaribagh until December last year.

Shahnaz Begum of Jhauchar area said her family members were suffering from breathing problems. Most of them bath in the river and depend on its water for domestic use.

“My grandson often complains of stink and wants to know about its source,” she told the public hearing, adding that the colour of her gold ornaments also changed recently.

Another local Asma Aktar said she had breathing problems and had to cover her nose with a handkerchief while passing through the area.

Yusuf Ali, a resident of Munshipara, alleged that tanneries were discharging liquid waste in the Dhaleswari.

The local environment “changed” after some tanners started production at the industrial estate, he said.

Mohammad Shamsul Haque, general secretary of NoPUP, said the authorities should monitor whether the tannery estate's Central           Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) was in use.

The authorities should be careful so that the livelihoods of local people are not in jeopardy like those of the people in Hazaribagh, he added.

He called upon the government to take steps to stop pollution in the Dhaleswari.

Syeda Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of Bela, said the locals' complaints were similar to those raised earlier by the residents in Hazaribagh.

“It would be a pity if the Dhaleswari dies due to pollution,” she told the public hearing.

It is the government's duty to make the CETP operational, the green activist observed.

Sanjay Kumar Thakur, a technical consultant of Bangladesh Tanners Association, a platform of factory owners, said there was no scope for the tanneries to dump waste in the river without treating it at the CETP.

Local Awami League lawmaker Enamur Rahman said the government was working sincerely to make sure that people do not suffer due to the functioning of tanneries.

He assured locals of raising the issue of their sufferings in  parliament so that the problems are solved.

ALRD Executive Director Shamsul Huda, among others, spoke at the programme.


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