River pollution from tannery waste
The water of 14 rivers in different parts of the country has become toxic due to tannery waste. These include Buriganga, Turag, Balu, Dhaleshwari of Savar, Banshi, Shitalakshya of Gazipur, Rupsha, Kopotaksh of Khulna, Bhairab of Jessore, Karnafuli of Chittagong, Halda and Sangu which surround the capital city.
The tannery waste has been dumped in some other rivers and canals and their water has become more or less polluted. Among them are Meghna River at Kuliyarchar in Kishoreganj and Brahmaputra River at Mymensingh.
According to the published news, the water of Buriganga is the most toxic due to raw hide waste. This water is mixed with tidal and rain water and falls into Turag, Balu and Shitalakshya rivers. As a result, the water of these rivers is also getting polluted. Besides, waste is being mixed in Turag River from leather warehouse located in Tongi.
Waste of leather warehouse in Sreepur of Gazipur district is mixing in Shitalakshya River. Waste from 270 tanneries in the capital's Hazaribagh is polluting the water.
Although the tanneries were once in Narayanganj it was brought to Hazaribagh, Dhaka on 3 October 1951 by a circular. The tanneries in Hazaribagh dumped about 21,600 cubic meters of liquid waste into the Buriganga daily. In addition, the remnants of leather were dumped along embankments, canals, reservoirs and along roads.
To solve this problem, the Ministry of Industries took up the Leather Industry City project in 2003. The initial cost of the project was Tk 176 crore, which later increased to Tk 1,079 crore. Under this project, 154 tanneries were given plots in Hemayetpur of Savar by acquiring a little more than 199 acres of land.
According to the DPP of the Leather Industries City project, Tk 250 crore was set aside for compensation to tannery owners and tk. 650 crore for construction of waste treatment plant, dumping yard or other works. After giving the land, BSCIC at different times fixed the time for the owners of the tannery to go to Savar.
However, the owners of the tannery did not show remorse. They repeatedly said that the CETP was not ready.
On March 11, 2012, BSIC commissioned a Chinese company to build CETP. The tender price was 64.4 million dollars, which is 547 crore in Bangladeshi currency (85 taka per dollar). The time taken to complete the work was 18 months. And six months was kept to explain the effectiveness of the CETP. But the Chinese contractor company CETP took more than 9 years to complete the work.
However, in the end, there are allegations that the CETP did not meet the appropriate standards.
Meanwhile, on April 8, 2017, the tanneries were forced to leave Hazaribagh. As soon as the tannery was started in the leather industry town of Savar, there were allegations of environmental pollution. The latest was handed over to BSIC by Chinese contractor CETP on June 27.
After that the responsibility of its management is to go to Dhaka Tannery Industrial Estate Waste Treatment Plant Company. The company is made up of BSCIC and Tannery owners. The owners of the tanneries say they have agreed to provide environmental clearance for the tanneries in order to understand the company's responsibilities.
Meanwhile, it can be seen on the spot that a huge dumpster next to the CETP is being used as a place to dump the leftovers of leather. The rubble of these dumps often breaks down and the waste often falls into the river. The foul smell of rotting leather residue is spreading in the air all over the area. Which is causing serious problem to public life. Remedy is urgent as soon as possible.
Although the reality, Pollution of river water by tannery or other wastes is nothing new. This is mainly due to the loss of navigability of the rivers. The reality is that the situation is not improving due to various gaps in the initiatives taken to remove waste from various industrial areas of the country. If an industry had been established, the problem might not have been so obvious if the people concerned had been or could be attentive.
The current situation is that river water is getting polluted due to industrial waste. When river water is polluted, its adverse effects are bound to be felt everywhere including public life. According to doctors, skin waste infects people in many ways. There is also a risk of fatal cancer.
According to experts, not only in Hazaribagh but also in places where there are tanneries, these wastes are harming water, environment and people alike. River fish and other aquatic animals in those areas are dying. In the current situation, it is necessary to pay attention to where and in which areas of the country when environmental pollution or environment conflicting industrial establishments are formed.
Drinking water crisis has already occurred in some parts of the country due to lack of navigability. The situation is bound to get worse when waste is mixed with it. Earlier, the issue was confined to the capital Dhaka or its environs, but now it is spreading across the country. This reality is unwelcome.
There is no substitute for water to protect the environment. In a riverine country like ours, if water becomes polluted or toxic, its widespread and adverse reactions are bound to be felt everywhere. He considered that rivers should be saved. For this, a fair share of water of common rivers flowing between Bangladesh and India has to be realized. If there was navigability, the situation might have been different. The river water might have dragged everything away.
Now it is necessary to take necessary measures so that the industrial waste does not mix with the river water under any circumstances. It is our expectation that the authorities will take necessary steps in this regard.
Md Atikur Rahman, columnist &
former head of PRD at BUFT