Untreated waste discharged from factories ruining water bodies in Tongi

26 September 2022

Garment factories, apparel dyeing and washing facilities mushroomed in Tongi over the years have ruined the rivers, canals and other water bodies. Effluent released from countless factories in the area has turned the river's swollen drain and filthy. A newspaper reported that the municipality authorities built a drainage system through Shilmon village for the factories to discharge untreated waste into the Hyderabad canal. Even the factories of Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) area discharge water in the canal which leads the toxic chemical to the Tongi River. Thanks to the network of connected water bodies, the dark water eventually reaches the Shitalakkhya through the Balu River.
A report of the International Finance Corporation in 2018 said Bangladeshi garment factories and mills that wash, dye, and finish fabrics consume 1,500 billion litres of water annually, which exacerbates falling groundwater levels. They also discharge toxic effluent that contaminates waterways and surrounding environments, harming the health, food production, and economic growth of local communities. At least 30 lakh cubic metres (each cubic metre is 1,000 litres) of wastewater are released every day from factories in Gazipur. Most of the pollution is done by 542 dyeing and washing facilities. Almost every factory has an effluent treatment plant (ETP) but they do not use the plants unless DoE visits them. Besides, DoE has only nine employees to monitor around 7,500 factories in Gazipur - an impossible job indeed.
The polluters keep on polluting, maybe because stopping pollution is not the government's priority. If it were a priority, the government would have stopped this. Rights campaigners aggrieved that the shipping ministry has just built walkways along the Turag River and Tongi canal compromising with the river grabbers. It is understandable that protecting the rivers is not the government's first concern. It is the responsibility of the government to show its real intention.

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