Tanneries now polluting the Dhaleshwari after the Buriganga15 October 2021 Editorial Desk
Untreated industrial waste keeps polluting River Dhaleshwari as the Central Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) at the country's lone tannery estate in Savar does not function fully as yet. As there is no solid waste management system, such waste lies in the open in a dumping yard. When it rains, the rainwater washes away the solid waste into the Dhaleshwari, thus polluting the river water. In fact, these tanneries have been relocated to Savar from the capital's Hazaribagh area to bring an end to the miserable pollution of River Buriganga. Country's leading experts have said the much-longed-for tannery estate, initiated in 2003, was intended to run with a fully functioning CETP to ensure the environment. But this still remains a far cry.
For many long years, they demanded for the government to relocate the tanneries from the densely populated Hazaribagh to Savar, the city outskirts. After years of foot-dragging, tanneries were shifted to Savar in 2016. Since then, they have been releasing wastewater into the Dhaleshwari with the CETP going into partial operation only in June this year.
Currently, the CETP can treat 25,000 cubic metres of effluents as against up to 40,000 cubic metres released from 132 factories in the industrial estate every day. So, on a busy day, the authorities have to discharge 15,000 cubic metres of effluents directly into the river through an alternative channel, according to a recent report of the Department of Environment (DoE). The Dhaleshwari and the communities living around it bear the brunt of it all.
Also, chromium-mixed water, which was supposed to be treated separately, is going to the river untreated. Another problem with this CETP is it cannot treat salt as well, though the tanneries use a huge quantity of salt to process rawhides. During a visit, newsmen have found that the CETP was releasing untreated black effluents through its main channel. Locals said they see this happening every day in broad daylight. We want to say the authorities must take immediate steps for making the CETP fully functional to treat effluents and find a proper place to dump solid wastes. The shifting of the tanneries was not meant for shifting pollution to Savar but to make those environment-friendly through proper waste and effluent treatment. We cannot lose sight of this objective and make the Dhaleshwari communities suffer.