Shut down Savar tannery estate
A parliamentary body yesterday recommended shutting down the Savar Tannery Industrial Estate in Hemayetpur because the estate does not have adequate facilities to treat all liquid waste generated by the tanners it houses.
The parliamentary standing committee on the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change made the recommendations at a meeting at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban.
"The Tannery Industrial 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 per day. That means 15,000 cubic metres are dumped into the [Dhaleshwari] river without any treatment, causing severe pollution," Saber Hossain Chowdhury, chief of the parliamentary watchdog, told reporters.
In 2003, the government had taken the initiative to build the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industry Corporation (BSCIC) Tannery Industrial Estate on 200 acres at Hemayetpur after moving all tanneries from the capital's Hazaribagh in order to prevent environmental pollution and to protect the Buriganga.
Also an Awami League MP of Dhaka-9 (Bashabo-Mugda) constituency, Saber said the most alarming matter is that the Tannery Industrial 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 pollution and severe harm to the environment, he said.
The committee chief added that the Ministry of Environment will immediately send a letter to the Ministry of Industry asking the latter to close the tannery industrial estate in Hemayetpur.
Saber said due to the harm the estate was causing the environment, the Department of Environment (DOE) last year did not renew environmental clearance licences for operation of the estate.
"The committee today [Monday] in its meeting also recommended that the Department of Environment not renew environment clearance to the estate unless it complies with all the indicators and achieves the capacity to treat all the waste generated in the industrial estate," he added.
The committee chief said the enforcement team of DoE visited the estate and witnessed the sorry state of waste treatment.
Members of the JS committee had also visited the area and witnessed a similar picture.
Briefing reporters, Saber said the DoE could have fined the estate for polluting the environment.
"But the parliamentary committee opined that imposing fines is not working. The department concerned fined the estate several times for polluting the environment, but they used to appeal against the fine," added Saber.
The committee chief also said according to the law, Tk 50 can be fined for dumping of each cubic metre of waste.
"In the last three years, the estate has dumped around 1.60 lakh cubic metres of waste into the river," Saber said.
"What was the point in relocating the tannery industry from Hazaribagh to Savar if this industry pollutes the environment," added the committee chief.
Mustaq Hossain, chairman of BSCIC, said they will take the next course of action after going through the recommendations of the parliamentary body.
There are around 160 tanneries at present 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.
5,000 ACRES OF FOREST LAND RECOVERED IN 9 MONTHS
Officials of the forest department yesterday informed the parliamentary committee that they have recovered around 5,000 acres of forest land from grabbers in nine months between October last year and June this year.
Grabbers have taken around 2.57 lakh acres of forest in different parts of the country.
The committee has asked the forest department to set a target of recovering around 50,000 acres of forest land from grabbers in the next two years, Saber said.