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State of Savar Tannery Estate-Part-2

Strong stench from rawhide wastes threatens public health

Published : Tuesday, 3 September, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Count : 768

The Savar Tannery Park or industrial estate built into several blocks with wide connecting roads has been developed in a way that factories can safely process rawhide and discharge wastes without impacting the environment.
But practically, the situation on the ground looks quite different. A visit to the spot last week shows that tanners already shifted to the estate have piled up rawhide in many factory premises and their solid wastes were left in open air in temporary dumping yards.
Besides, most tanneries are dumping solid wastes in areas that the central effluent treatment plant (CETP) does not fully cover. Thus, the level of contamination from rots and liquid wastes is increasingly polluting the air spreading stink in and around the locality.  
The tannery industry was shifted to Savar from Hazaribagh to protect the environment and public health as it was polluting River Buriganga and local air spreading diseases. But people around the Savar tannery said      the situation is also fast worsening there.
They blame manipulation in contract award for CETP, slow mobilization, inefficient project management, Chinese contractors dilly dallying over the years made the project to suffer from serious setback.
The project is yet to be fully completed and made operational and this is why the entire industrial estate is not coming up to properly functioning, besides several other factors like dust creating the mismatch. Proper waste management is not possible in such situation without an efficient system at work even if factory owners want it.
Industries Secretary Abdul Halim said, "All responsibility doesn't belong to the industry ministry. There are other ministries involved. So everyone needs to cooperate. Then we will be able to finish all CETP installation and other issues hindering satisfactory progress."  
Shah Alam, a resident of Jhauchar near the tannery estate and member of Tetuljhora Union Parishad said nearly 20,000 people in and around the area are suffering from severe pollution spreading from the tannery estate. People are suffering from various diseases such as skin-related and respiratory troubles, he said.
Sirajul Islam-a local resident told the Daily Observer that not only surface water, even  tube-well water in the areas has become stinky from tannery waste contamination. Fishermen Afajuddin of Jhauchar area who had so long depended on Dhaleswari river and its branches for fishing said most fishermen have now become day-laborers abandoning fishing for a livelihood. He said many have also become rickshaw pullers.
Tannery factories were forced to move to Savar tannery estate in 2016 but the CETP is yet to come into full operation to treat wastes and discharge of chemical effluents.
Poribesh Bachao Andolon (POBA) Chairman Abu Naser Khan said "The Tannery Palli has been shifted to Savar to protect public health and the environment. The government should strictly enforce rules.  Otherwise, tanneries may ultimately face closure.

The tannery estate has been built at a cost of Tk1,078.71 crore by Bangladesh Small and Cottage industries Corporation (BSCIC) on over 200 acres of land. But as it stands today, it is spreading stinks and polluting water taking the people of the locality hostage. The threat must be urgently addressed, locals said.  

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