Have ETP, or shut down, minister tells factories

Untreated waste and chemicals of the tanneries in Hazaribagh flow through a sluice gate to the Buriganga river. Star file photo

In a move to save the major rivers around Dhaka, the government today made effluent treatment plants (ETP) mandatory for all factories.

The decision was taken at an inter-ministerial meeting today at the Shipping Ministry.

The meeting focused on effective steps to reduce water pollution in the rivers.

Factories around the Shitalakkhya, Balu, Turag and Buriganga rivers must have ETP within a given period of time, Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan said. “Or else, they will be shut down.”

The minister, however, was not specific about the deadline.

ETP covers the process of treating by-product waste water from the industries to make it less harmful before being released into the environment.

This Star photo taken on April 17, 2013 shows Charles Depman, Asia regional coordinator of Waterkeeper Alliance, holding two bottles, one filled with drinking water and the other with river water, during his tour of the Buriganga near Basila in the capital. With the unbearable stench all around Depman has to wear a gas mask.

If the factories do not implement the ETP within the given time, they will be fined first, Minister Shahjahan said. “If the fine does not initiate the implementation, they will be shut down.”

The meeting also decided on a project to initiate cleaning the rivers. This will be led by the shipping ministry. Its feasibility study will begin soon. Local authorities will be included in the awareness campaign.

Regarding the relocation of tanneries, the minister said they would also be given time to shift to Savar or else they will be shut down.

The meeting was chaired by Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan with the presence of Environment and Forest Minister Anwar Hossain Manju Housing Minister Mosharraf Hossain, Land Minister Shamsur Rahman Sherif, Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Sayeed Khokon and Annisul Huq mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation attended the meeting.