Government moves to close down tanning estate

Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry has taken steps to implement a recommendation by JS on closing down the Savar tannery.

At a meeting held on August 23, the parliamentary standing committee for the ministry recommended closing down the Savar Tannery Industrial Estate at Hemayetpur (STIE), because it doesn't have sufficient facilities to handle the liquid waste produced by the tanners who live there.

The ministry released a statement on September 11 that the chairman of Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation was asked to explain why the STIE should be kept open as per the recommendation of the parliamentary standing commission.

Ashraf Uddin (director general of the Department of Environment), signed the letter on September 9, 2021.

The Jatiya Sangsad Committee stated that the STIE can treat approximately 25,000 cubic metres liquid waste per day, while the tanners produce around 40,000 cubic meters each day. This means that 15,000 cubic metres worth of waste end up in the Dhaleshwari River without any treatment. It causes severe water pollution.

According to a DoE report, the JS body found that the estate doesn't have the capacity to treat solid waste. This includes heavy metals like chromium.

These solid wastes are being dumped in the river without any treatment. This causes further pollution and grave damage to the environment.

The DoE decided not to renew the environmental clearance licenses granted to the estate for the past two years due to the damage it was causing the environment.

After moving all the tanneries from Hazaribagh, the capital's Hazaribagh, the government took the initiative to construct the BSCIC Tannery Industrial Estate in Hemayetpur in 2003. This was to reduce environmental pollution and protect the Buriganga.

The JS body stated that reopening the case may be possible if the complex is managed in compliance with the law.

The leather industrial park is home to around 130 tanning plants.

The new industrial park houses tanneries as well as backward and forward linking industries that are related to leather goods.

The construction of the Central Effluent Treatment Plant, (CETP), in the tannery estate took nine years and cost nearly Tk 500 million. According to tannery sources, the CETP construction was awarded to a joint venture company from Bangladesh and China in 2012. The deadline for completion was 2017.

"But, it was extended multiple times."

They said that although the STIE had taken over the project in June 27, nobody was held responsible for any anomalies in the design or construction of the CETP. However, nearly Tk 500 million was spent by the government exchequer.

"The CETP was flawed in design and implemented in an erroneous manner. This caused a waste of time and damage to the environment.

The joint venture company's delay has pushed the country's several-billion-dollar leather sector into trouble and caused a delay in obtaining the Leather Working Group (LWG) certification, which is required for better export prices of tanned leather.

Non-completion by the CETP has made it difficult to obtain the LWG certification. Exporters of leather goods and leather products from Bangladesh are being forced to pay 40 percent less than the market price by international retailers and brands because the country couldn't obtain the certification that would prove better compliance in this sector.


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