Water pollution by textile industries
In recent years, Bangladesh has achieved rapid economic growth and expects to become a middle-income country by 2021. The contribution of textile companies is around 82% of total export revenue. However, they are also one of the major contributors of environmental deterioration – specially the rivers around Dhaka city are severely affected by waste produced by textile industries. Such waste has disastrous impact on the environment.
Because of excessive chemical waste released into the rivers, the river water is polluted and surrounding ecosystems are destroyed. The pollution also affects human health and animal habitat.
Several laws have been enacted for the development, management, protection and conservation of water resources. Bangladesh Water Act, 2013 envisions that the misuse of water resources should be decreased, and water resources shall be protected from any kind of damage and pollution. Water pollution is defined under section 28 of the 2013 Act as any "direct or indirect harmful changes for physical, chemical and organic properties of water." According to the provisions of this Act, pollution of water caused by textile companies can be restricted or banned. For violating the provisions of this Act, companies can be removed and for any offensive act committed by any textile company, every director, manager, executive, secretary or employee can be considered liable for commission of the offence according to section 34, and as per section 43 of this Act, compensation can be recovered from the companies in prescribed manner and the account of such persons in scheduled bank can be frozen.
National Water Policy, 1999 was adopted with a view to achieving economic development, poverty alleviation, food security, public health and safety, decent standard of living for the people and protection of the national environment. This Policy envisages better management of water resources of the country. For purpose of conservation of water resources, the concerned authority may require the industrial polluters to pay for the cleaning up of the waterbody polluted by them.
National River Protection Commission Act, 2013 aims at formation of a commission for prevention of encroachment of river, pollution of river water through industrial dumping, construction of illegal infrastructure, conservation and management of rivers in Bangladesh. Most of the textile companies are located near rivers and the industrial wastes are released into the river even though they are restricted.
Under section 29 of the Bangladesh Water Act, 2013, companies may be made to pay fine for non-compliance with any protection afforded under the law. According to section 7 of the Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act, 1995, the Director General (DG) of the Department of Environment may determine the compensation and direct the person to pay it as well as take corrective measures which is to be followed mandatorily.
Despite the presence of various laws and regulations, water pollution caused by textile companies remains unabated. Current environmental laws and standards require clarity to prevent water pollution. Separate regulatory authority and effective effluent management and pollution control mechanisms should be put in place for treatment for urban wastes in each Metropolitan Corporation, City Corporation, and Municipality so that water is not polluted. Strong role of the local government in curbing pollution, clear and comprehensive regulations, and efficient administration for water pollution is essential for the prevention of water pollution.
The writer is an LLM student, University of Asia Pacific.