Govt moves to shut down tannery estate
The environment, forest and climate change ministry has moved to implement a JS body's recommendation on shutting down the tannery complex in Savar.
The parliamentary standing committee on the ministry at a meeting on August 23 recommended shutting down the Savar Tannery Industrial Estate (STIE) at Hemayetpur because it does not have adequate facilities to treat the amount of liquid waste generated by the tanners it houses.
In a press release on September 11, the ministry said the chairman of Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) has been requested to turn in a clear explanation by September 20 as to why the STIE should not be shut down as per the parliamentary standing committee's recommendation.
The request was made in a letter signed by Ashraf Uddin, director general of the Department of Environment, on September 9, 2021.
At the August 23 meeting, the Jatiya Sangsad committee said the STIE has the capacity to treat around 25,000 cubic metres of liquid waste every day, but the tanners generate around 40,000 cubic metres per day. That means 15,000 cubic metres of waste are dumped into the Dhaleshwari river without any treatment, causing severe water pollution.
Based on a report placed by the DoE before the JS body, it said the estate does not have the facility to treat solid waste, which includes heavy metals and chromium.
This solid waste is being dumped into the river without any treatment, causing further pollution and severe harm to the environment.
Due to the harm the estate was causing to the environment, the DoE did not renew environmental clearance licences for the estate's operation for the last two years.
In 2003, the government had taken 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.
In the future, if the complex is operated in accordance with the provisions of the law, the issue of reopening may be considered, the JS body also said.
There are around 130 tanneries at present in the leather industrial park.
Tanneries and backward and forward linkage industries related to leather goods have been accommodated in the new industrial park.
Despite nine years of work and expenditure of nearly Tk 500 crore, the construction of the Central Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) in the tannery estate has not been completed. A Bangladesh-China joint venture company was awarded the construction work of the CETP in 2012 and the deadline for completion was 2017, said tannery sources.
"However, it was extended several times."
They added that the STIE finally took over the project on June 27 but nobody was made responsible for anomalies in design and construction of the CETP, although nearly Tk 500 crore was spent from the government exchequer.
"Time and money were wasted and the environment damaged because of flaws in the design and anomalies in purchase and implementation of the CETP."
The joint venture company's delay has pushed the country's several-billion-dollar leather sector into trouble and caused a delay in obtaining the Leather Working Group (LWG) certification, which is required for better export prices of tanned leather.
The obtaining of the much-needed LWG certification has become uncertain again due to non-completion of the CETP. The Bangladeshi leather and leather goods and tanned leather goods exporters are having to get 40 percent below the actual price from international retailers and brands as the country could not attain the certification to prove better compliance practice in the sector.