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, said experts.
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, reports UNB.
Water experts professor Ainun Nishat and BUET professor Md Mujibur Rahman, Bangladesh Paribesh Andolan (BAPA) general secretary MA Matin and Savar river and environment protection movement president Rafiqul Islam Mollah said faulty installation of central effluent treatment plant (CETP) also is responsible for the whole situation.
They said the government must take immediate steps for making the CETP at the tannery estate fully functional and called for creating a proper dumping place for solid wastes, including unused rawhides.
Professor Ainun Nishat said it is regrettable and shameful that inefficient engineers from BUET designed the CETP which is not capable to treat the huge amount of liquid wastes, including salt, of the tanneries.
“Out of the four units of the CETP, only one unit is functioning regularly.”
He said the government should immediately engage other experts to fix the faulty design of the CETP and enhance its capacity to treat all kinds of tannery wastes.
The experts and green activists said proper action also needs to be taken to check other untreated industrial and domestic wastes, chemicals, and heavy metals.
They also called to enforce law to save the Dhaleshwari river, its biodiversity and inhabitants on its banks.
Professor Mujibur Rahman said the Dhaleshwari will die if proper steps are not taken very soon to check the untreated wastes of the relocated tanneries.
“Now pollution by the tanneries has been shifted to Dhaleshwari from Buriganga. We shouldn’t allow any industry to kill a river and harm people.”
Local people said that aquatic resources, including fish, have almost become extinct in the river as its water has got contaminated.
Tetuljhora union parishad member Shah Alam, also a resident of Jhauchar near the tannery estate, said nearly 20,000 people in the area are being subjected to severe pollution by the newly relocated tanneries as they have no effective measure to protect the environment.
He said people have been suffering from various diseases, especially skin-related ones, due to the adverse impact of the environmental degradation.
Four other local residents-Monir Hossain, Mizanur Rahman, Sirajul Islam and Giasuddin-also echoed the UP member and said even tube-well water in the areas has got stinky due to the contamination of the river water with tannery wastes.
Fishermen Afajuddin and Lat Mia of Jhauchar area, who greatly depend on the river for fishing, said they have now become day-labourers changing their profession as no fish is now available in the river.
They said the water is so stinky and polluted that hardly any fish or other aquatic animal can survive in it. “We saw dead fish floating in the river six months ago,” said Lat Mia.
Green activist Rafiqul Islam Mollah said they are planning to wage a strong movement together with people to save Dhaleshwari and locals from the pollution by the tanneries.