However, the government is saying it cannot run the CEPT, built to treat waste from the leather industry at the Savar Tannery Estate, due to the shortage of waste.
The two parties came up with the arguments at a discussion meeting titled “Relocation of Tanneries from Hazaribagh to Savar: How Far is it?” in Dhaka yesterday.
Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) organised the event with partner organisations, industry owners and government representatives.
According to a paper presented by Prof Delwar Hossain of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) Civil Engineering department, the treatment plant needed waste from at least 35 big factories to run. But as of last month only 11 tanneries had started processing in the estate.
Sanjoy Kumar Talukdar, tannery owners consultant for the estate project, claimed that in most of the cases, there is no similarity with the real scenario of the industrial park. He said
“There is no chrome recovery plant and salt treatment at the estate,” he said.
Project Director Abdul Quayum on the other hand said: “We cannot run the two modules of CETP, although they are fully ready to go operational, due to shortage of waste. We will be able to complete four modules of the CETP within next two months.”
“The factory owners were supposed to establish their own ETPs. But the government is doing it with the public money for the sake of public welfare,” said Mubasshar Hussein, president of the Institute of Architects Bangladesh.
“Your (factory owners) responsibility is to make people understand that your plants will not be harmful and will be environment friendly,” said Mubasshar, also an urban planner.
Stressing on environmental hazards, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said: “We also have to realise that are we shifting Hazaribagh’s problems to Savar.”
Representatives of Hazaribagh residents urged the government to take measures to ensure healthy environment in the area after the relocation is completed. Savar dwellers meanwhile urged the government and the factory owners to take measures to prevent air and environment pollution there.
In response, Environment Minister Anwar Hossain Manju said that the technology used in the industrial park was highly efficient and state-of-the-art. He also assured that fund obtained from developed countries for environmental development would be used to prevent pollution.
Md Mizanur Rahman, treasurer of Bangladesh Tanners Association, said: “We want to relocate and have already invested Tk1,500 crore. But it will take time as we got the plant from the government in December 2015 and its a lengthy process.”
The Industries Ministry allocated plots to 155 tannery owners through the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) in the Leather Industrial Park established on 200 acres of land in Savar.
As per the agreement, the government was supposed to establish a CETP at the industrial park to ensure that the liquid wastes discharged by the tanners are treated before flowing into the nearby river.
The government decided to transfer the tanneries from Hazaribagh amid pressure from local and international rights groups, environmental activists and buyers because of their hazardous effects on public health and environment, especially the Buriganga River.