The crops production and fish farming at 71 villages in Cumilla are being affected severely as the chemical waste of its export economic zone (EPZ) is gushing into the ponds, canals and wetlands, locally known as beel.
Besides, the unbearable stench of the toxic chemicals makes the lives of 50,000 people miserable in those areas.
A farmers' organisation, Cumilla Zilla Krishak Oikya Parishad, held a meeting at deputy commissioner’s office in Cumilla on Thursday afternoon to find out a way to resolve the problem.
Representatives from Bangladesh Export Processing Zones authority (BEPZA), environment department and Cumilla City Corporation were present at the meeting with deputy commissioner (DC) Mohammad Kamrul Hasan in the chair.
In the meeting, the parishad’s president Mohammad Akhter Hossain said the ministry of environment, forest and climate change formed an eight-member committee to oversee the waste management system of the EPZ with no representative from farmers.
Mohammad Akhter pressed home several demands in the meeting, including digging canals at airport and Onaishar areas, removing city corporation’s canal from the EPZ, dumping the toxic waste to Central Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) and monitoring CETP virtually.
The parishad also demanded compensating TK 5.9 billion for the losses the farmers incurred due to the dumping of chemical waste to the water bodies.
Mohammad Akhter further said if the effective steps are not adopted, the farmers will go for a tougher movement.
Deputy commissioner Mohammad Kamrul Hasan said he wants to see the development of EPZ’s waste management by next seven days. The city corporation will have to come forward to excavate the canal.
Environment department deputy director Shawkat Ara Koli said the evidence of the unbearable stench in the water bodies has been found.