300 factories in 3 industrial areas running without ETPs

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Some 300 factories in the three designated industrial areas in the capital and Gazipur have long been running without Effluent Treatment Plants (ETPs), causing serious environmental pollution.

The three industrial areas — Hazaribagh Tannery area, Shyampur-Kadamtoli Industrial area in the capital and Tongi BSCIC Industrial Area — could not be brought under Department of Environment (DoE) regulation for various problems, including unavailability of land for constructing Central Effluent Treatment Plants (CETP), DoE sources said.

The problems also include lack of fund and nighttime closure of ETPs.

According to the DoE, there are nearly 200 factories in Hazaribagh Tannery area, 46 in Shyampur-Kadamtoli industrial area and 42 factories in Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) area, Tongi.

These factories discharge untreated chemical wastes into water bodies, polluting the canals and rivers with dumping wastes containing chemicals into them.

DoE Director (Monitoring and Enforcement) Md Alamgir told UNB that there are ‘three black spots’ where most of the 300 factories have been running without setting up ETPs.

He said DoE teams will conduct drives soon in the areas, especially in Tongi and take tough action against the factories.

The DoE Director, however, said most of the factories in other parts of the country have already set up ETPs being forced by compliance factors. But many factories do not use ETPs at nighttime, an emerging new problem.

The official said the DoE fined 1,765 factories and individuals Tk 170 crore as environmental compensation from July 2010 to November 2014. Of the amount, Tk 114 crore has already been realised, he added.

Although some 200 factories at Hazaribagh are the major sources of pollution of the BurigangaRiver, the lifeline of the capital, DoE cannot force the factories to use ETPs due to their relocation complexity.

The tanneries at Hazaribagh could not be shifted to Savar Tannery Estate over a decade after the Industries Ministry undertook a project in 2003. The project at Savar on 199.40 acres of land involving Tk 1079 crore is being implemented by Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation.

According to a recent report of Poribesh Bachao Andolon (Poba), about 21,000 cubic metres of untreated toxic waste is released every day from the Hazaribagh tanneries into the river.

In 2009, the High Court ordered the relocation of the tanneries by February 28, 2010, and later the court on several occasions extended the deadline till April 30, 2011.

According to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) the government signed with the Bangladesh Tanners Association (BTA) and the Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leather-goods and Footwear Exporters Association (BFLLFEA), a total of 155 tanneries will be relocated to Savar from Hazaribagh by December, 2014. But the relocation of tanneries could not yet be done.

Poba chairman Abu Naser Khan told UNB that the progress of the relocation project is very slow. “The relocation work of some 20 tanneries has started by the time,” he said.

The factory owners of Shyampur-Kadamtoli sought land of Dhaka Wasa at Pagla to set up CETP following a writ petition filed with the High Court by an environmental organisation, said a DoE official.

The official said as the matter of constructing CETP in Shyampur-Kadamtoli still is pending with the court, the DoE faces difficulties to bring the factories under regulation.

In Tongi BSCIC area, some 40-42 factories cannot install CETPs for lack of land. Five to six years ago, the World Bank retreated from financing the construction of CETP due to the absence of a suitable location.

The DoE official said the factories owners have so far collected some Tk 30 crore, but they need Tk 300 crore for purchasing land and constructing the CETP.

Article Source: UNB