In keeping with the Supreme Court order, the Department of Environment (DoE) has cut off the utility connections of power, water and gas at Hazaribagh tanneries on Saturday.
The drive began at 9am to cutting off 224 power connections, 193 water connections and 54 gas connections according to Director (Dhaka region) of DoE Md Alamgir.
“We received full cooperation from the tannery owners and all production there has been shut down,” he said adding 5 teams were present to ensure security during the drive.
Masudul Haque Siddique, employee at Pubali Tanneries said since the power supply was cut off in the morning there has not been any work since then: “We are not waiting for the gas supply to be cut off.”
Most of the tanneries there have stopped production anticipating the drive on Saturday while many have closed in the last month.
The Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited sent out 4 teams to cut off 54 gas supply lines on Saturday as well.
An official from the second team, Sheikh Shahidul Islam, technical officer of Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited told the Dhaka Tribune: “As power supply was cut off in the morning, we are now cutting off the gas lines. Our team has already disconnected 10 gas lines.”
“There are a total of 54 gas lines that need to be disconnected and we are taking away all gas meters from here.
“Owners are cooperating with us, which is a good thing,” he added.
On March 12, the Supreme Court upheld a High Court order that asked the government to shut down all 154 tanneries in Hazaribagh, Dhaka, and cut off their utility connections immediately.
A three-member Appellate Division bench led by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha passed the order rejecting a petition filed by Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leather Goods and Footwear Exporters Association for a stay on the High Court order.
In 2001, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) filed public interest litigation (PIL) with the High Court, seeking an order for relocation of tanneries from Hazaribagh. Following the PIL, the High Court directed tannery owners to relocate their business.
In 2003 the government then allocated over 200 acres of land in Savar to build the Leather Industrial Park for the tanneries to relocated to, at the cost of Tk175 crore which in 2016 stood at Tk1078 crore.
In 2009 the High Court once again directed the tanneries to relocate by 2010 which was later extended to 2011. On July 2016, the High Court ordered each factory to pay Tk10,000 daily as compensation for not relocating.