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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Karnaphuli Paper Mills without ETP for 62yrs

Update : 22 Jan 2016, 06:25 PM

Karnaphuli Paper Mills (KPM), the largest state-owned paper manufacturing factory of the country, is discharging untreated toxic waste without setting up Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP), posing a serious threat to aquatic ecological balance.

The paper mill is running its operation without obtaining any environmental clearance certificate and installing the ETP.

Karnaphuli Paper Mills (KPM) was established in 1953 on a five-acre of land in  Chandraghona area, Rangamati with a production capacity of 30,000 tonnes of newspaper annually. After 1971, the Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC) took over the charge of the factory.  

The Department of Environment (DoE) has issued repeated notices to the KPM authorities in the last couple of years for taking measures to install the ETP and obtaining environment clearance certificate, but to no avail.

In the latest notice served on October 11 last year, the DoE asked to set up ETP and mentioned that the soil, air and water of the Karnaphuli River was being polluted due to the rampant dumping of chemical wastes from the mill.

On June 17, 2013, the DoE served another show-cause notice asking the KPM to explain why, despite previous notices, authorities of the factory did not take steps to stop releasing untreated effluent into adjoining Karnaphuli River.

“The diversity of flora and fauna of the surrounding areas is now at stake due to discharge of untreated waste. We should save the river otherwise Karnaphuli might have to embrace the fate of the Buriganga,” said Md Mokbul Hossain, director, DoE, Chittagong region.

“We have inspected the factory on several occasions and later prepared a report on the extent of pollution caused by the paper manufacturing company. Later, on October 29 last year, we penalised the factory with Tk1.8 crore after a hearing held at the DoE office on October 27. However, the factory has not paid the penalty yet,” said Md Bodrul Huda, assistant director of the DoE, Chittagong region.

As per the report prepared by the DoE, the factory which is now faced with many crises remains operational 100 days a year. On an average, the factory while manufacturing 2,000-3,000 tonnes of paper per day that produces some 11,400 cubic metre of liquid wastes mixed with different toxic chemicals.

The untreated toxic liquid waste released from the KPM directly finds its way into Karnaphuli River through different drains adjacent to the mill. The solid waste of the factory is also filling and choking the river, the report pointed out.

Anowar Hossain, general manager (administration) of Karnaphuli Paper Mills, informed that they had decided to set up ETP at a board meeting held on January 11.  

Manjurul Kibria, a researcher and associate professor in Zoology Department of Chittagong University said the reproduction and number of fishes had  drastically reduced due to the dumping of untreated industrial waste into Karnaphuli.

“We conducted a survey in 2009 to ascertain the exact number of fish species available in the river and found that 20-25 species of freshwater and 10 species of brackish water have already become extinct while the rest fish species are also in peril,” said Kibria.

“Once River Karnaphuli was abound with a total of 140 fish species which include 66 species of freshwater, 59 species of brackish water and 15 species of migratory fish,” added Kibria.

Kibria also cautioned that many more fish species in River Karnaphuli might go extinct if the industries do not comply with the mandatory rules of installing the ETP. 

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