The Supreme Court issued an order on Sunday directing the authorities concerned to make sure that the newly relocated tannery factories in Savar do not pollute and damage the Dhaleshwari River like they did the Buriganga before.
Saying it had information that the construction of the Central Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) in Savar industrial park had yet to be finished, a four-member bench of the Appellate Division said the CETP and other facilities in Savar must be in proper working order to treat tannery waste.
Otherwise, the relocation of tanneries from Hazaribagh will be futile, said the bench led by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha.
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Warning the government that legal action would be taken against polluters, the court said: “Make sure that the Dhaleshwari does not become another Buriganga.”
The bench also asked the authorities concerned to provide utility services – gas, water and electricity – to the newly relocated tanneries within 15 days of getting the Supreme Court's order in hand.
Furthermore, the court exonerated Hazaribagh tannery owners from paying Tk30.85 crore in fine that they were charged with for failing to relocate on time.
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The court also relieved the tannery owners from paying Tk10,000 per day as compensation, but it instructed each of the 142 tanneries to pay Tk50,000 to the Ministry of Labour and Employment in 15 days.
The money will be used by the labour and employment secretary to rehabilitate workers of the tanneries that are currently under the process of relocation.
The court gave these instructions while hearing a review petition filed by tannery owners against a Supreme Court order that asked each tannery to pay a daily fine of Tk10,000 for damaging the environment of Hazaribagh area in Dhaka, as well as a leave-to-appeal petition filed by the tannery owners against a High Court order to pay the Tk30.85-crore fine.
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In its order on Sunday, the court also said that after relocation, the tannery owners may apply for gas, electricity and water connection to their land in Hazaribagh if they want to use it for other purposes, but only after obtaining clearance from the Department of Environment.
The Department of Environment severed the utility connections
at the remaining tanneries in Hazaribagh on Saturday following another Supreme Court order.