Tanneries now killing the Dhaleshwari

18 January 2021

THE tanneries relocated from the capital's Hazaribagh area to Savar to save the Buriganga River are now polluting another major river, the Dhaleshwari, putting its existence and biodiversity at stake. The direct disposal of untreated liquid and solid wastes full of high level of concentrated chromium and salt from the leather factories has degraded the water quality of the river, say water and environment experts.
It is regrettable that the alleged faulty installation of the central effluent treatment plant (CETP) at the tannery estate is not fully capable to treat the huge amount of liquid wastes, including salt, of the tanneries. Steps must be taken immediately to make the CETP completely functional side-by-side creating a proper dumping place for solid wastes and unused rawhides.
A media report in a national daily on Sunday said that the CETP has four modules and all are running in full swing. However, sources alleged that out of the four, only one module is functioning regularly.
As reported, people living in the area once used to use the river water in their daily life for various purposes, but that is no longer possible at present. Water pollution has been creating various diseases, especially skin-related ones. Local people say that aquatic resources, including fish, have almost become extinct in the river, as its water has got contaminated. But we should not allow any industry to kill a river and harm people.
Meanwhile, BSCIC authorities admitted that though the CETP is functioning, during peak time it runs out of capacity. Thus, the waste overflows. The authorities, however, are trying to finish the project as per the latest deadline by June this year.
It was gross negligence on the part of the authorities to force the tanneries to move from Hazaribagh to Savar knowing fully well that the CETP was not operational fully, although they claimed at the time that it would be done in a few months. A few months have turned into a few years and the water of the Dhaleshwari now has a terrible odour.  
Construction of the CETP that started back in 2014 has not completely finished yet. Why are we repeating the Hazaribagh scenario all over again, causing the death of a river, putting people's health at stake and destroying livelihoods of the fishing community?
We want strong enforcement of law to save the Dhaleshwari River, its biodiversity and inhabitants on its banks.

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