Environmental Pollution: JS body directs DoE to take steps to shut down Savar tannery estate
The parliamentary standing committee on the environment ministry today asked the monitoring and enforcement wing of the Department of Environment (DoE) to take necessary measures to shut down the Savar Tannery Industrial Estate for the failure of its joint management committee to comply with the environment standards.
The committee came up with the directive at its meeting where it also said the tannery industry will remain shut until it takes measures to treat all kinds of waste generated there.
The parliamentary body today also expressed dissatisfaction and rejected the tannery estate's joint management committee's response to a show cause notice served to it by DoE in December last year in this regard.
"In the reply they (the joint management committee) mentioned various plans [to stop environment pollution] which the committee thinks is not acceptable," Saber Hossain Chowdhury, chief of the parliamentary standing committee, told The Daily Star after coming out from the meeting.
Their response also proved that the Savar tannery industry has been polluting the environment, said Saber Hossain, also a ruling Awami League lawmaker.
Meeting sources said water and electricity connections of the tannery industry might be snapped.
The committee chief also said it was decided in the meeting that the Minister for Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, Shahab Uddin, will hold discussion with the industries minister on shutting down the tannery estate.
The meeting decided that the estate, established on the outskirts of the capital, will have to apply for a fresh environment clearance, but before that it will have to shut and will not be allowed to operate until it gets a fresh clearance.
In the last three years, the estate has dumped around 1.60 lakh cubic metres of waste into the river, Saber Hossain said, quoting statistics from the Department of Environment (DoE).
On November 30 last year, the environment ministry agreed to its watchdog's recommendation to shut down the tannery industrial estate immediately as it has been running without environmental clearance for the last 10 years and lacks the facilities to treat all its liquid waste.
The most alarming matter is that the estate does not have any facility to treat solid wastes, including heavy metals and chromium.
Earlier on August 23, the parliamentary body recommended shutting down the estate due to widespread pollution of the local environment.
According to statistics placed before the standing committee, the estate has the capacity to treat around 25,000 cubic metres of liquid waste every day, but the tanners generate around 40,000 cubic metres of liquid waste daily.
That means 15,000 cubic metres of liquid waste are being dumped into the Dhaleshwari river every day without any treatment, causing severe pollution.
In 2003, the government took the initiative to build the BSCIC Tannery Industrial Estate on 200 acres in Hemayetpur after moving all tanneries from the capital's Hazaribagh in order to prevent environmental pollution and to protect the Buriganga river.
There are around 160 tanneries operating in the leather industrial park, sources at the meeting said.
Tanneries and backward and forward linkage industries related to leather goods were accommodated in the new industrial park after it was moved from Hazaribagh in 2003.