Factory owners and locals have been raising a myriad of allegations since the tannery factories were relocated to Savar on 6 April 2017. Infrastructure and opportunities required for the industrial estate have not been ensured. On the other, there are several instances of the industrialists violating the laws, dumping the waste into the river through pipes at night. During a visit at night, the Prothom Alo correspondent found untreated waste being disposed though pipes, but no sign of the pipes was found in the morning. This is not only destroying environment but also killing fish and freshwater dolphins in the river. People are afraid of using the river water since tannery waste has contaminated the water excessively.

The Hazaribagh’s tannery industry was relocated to save Buriganga river. Now the Savar’s tannery industry cannot be allowed to destroy Dhaleshwari river. It amounts to killing the river. Previously, the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) strictly fined the factory owners, but the owners filed a petition with the court putting the penalty on hold. Even the parliamentary standing committee on environment, forest and climate change ministry recommended suspending factory operations, but this was not followed either. Several factory owners continue to violate the laws. BSCIC’s fine or the parliamentary committee’s warning – nothing stops them. Tanners cannot dump waste into river at the excuse of effluent treatment plant not functioning. They must operate factories in compliance with the law.

It is also true that not all tannery industrialists are involved in such crimes. The tannery owners’ association should take action against the factory owners concerned. Polluting and killing the river cannot continue because of a few factory owners. And BISCIC cannot dispense its responsibility simply by handing over the industrial estate to the factory owners either. If there is any infrastructural problem, it must be resolved immediately.

The Department of Environment claimed the factory owners did not have environmental clearance. The factory owners, on the other, said the BISCIS did not meet their demands. This lack of coordination among these three parties will damage the environment and have a detrimental effect on the local resident’s lives. This cannot be tolerated anymore. Those who discharge untreated industrial waste into river must be brought to book. And these disastrous actions that kill the river and destroy the environment in the name of the leather industry, must stop immediately.