Around 15,000 cubic metres of waste are dumped into the Dhaleshwari River without any treatment every day, says a parliamentary panel
The Department of Environment (DoE) has written to the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (Bscic) asking its chairman to explain why the Savar Tannery Complex should not be shut down.
In the letter sent on Thursday, the department told Bscic Chairman Md Mostaque Hasan to respond by September 20.
The move comes following the recommendation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to close it down on a priority basis.
It also recommended collecting maximum compensation through fines before the closure.
The parliamentary panel made the recommendation on August 23 after inspecting the area and observing that the industrial zone lacks adequate waste treatment facilities.
The estate has the capacity to treat around 25,000 cubic metres of liquid waste per day, but the tanners generate around 40,000 cubic metres of liquid waste every day, Saber Hossain Chowdhury, the head of the parliamentary watchdog, told the media at that time.
The remaining 15,000 cubic metres of waste are dumped into the Dhaleshwari River without any treatment, causing severe pollution, he added.
The panel suggested reopening the complex if proper measures are taken to manage the pollution and waste in line with the regulations.
In 2003, the government took the initiative to build the Bscic Tannery Industrial Estate on 200 acres of land in Savar’s Hemayetpur, in order to prevent environmental pollution and protect the Buriganga River.
Despite being reluctant, the tannery owners in Dhaka’s Hazaribagh moved their plants to Hemayetpur following a court order in April 2017.
There are around 160 tanneries in the leather industrial park at present.
It was initially said that the tanneries would set up Effluent Treatment Plants (ETPs) themselves for industrial waste management. But as the tanneries did not do so, the Ministry of Industries decided to set up a central ETP under the project and the cost increased to Tk545 crore.
In the meantime, the Ministry of Industries set deadlines to shift to the tannery complex without ensuring any facilities.
The factories were relocated in April 2017 after the High Court ordered the gas, water and electricity connections of the factories in Hazaribagh to be disconnected.
Before the completion of the various components of the central ETP, 130 factories started operations, polluting the Dhaleshwari river, just like it happened with the Buriganga river in Dhaka.