Saturday, 3 December 2011

Tannery relocation faces further delay, Govt seeks 2 yrs more to set up central ETP

The government has sought two more years from the High Court to set up a central Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) in Savar and move the tanneries there from the capital.

The deadline to set up the central ETP and shift the environmentally hazardous tanneries from city's Hazaribagh ended on April 30 this year.
Before the deadline expired, the industries ministry filed a petition asking for two years' time to complete the job. The court is yet to fix any date for hearing of the petition.
Earlier, the government twice sought two years from the court for the relocation, but the court granted six months.
Rais Uddin Ahmed, counsel for the ministry, told The Daily Star that the government is sincere about setting up ETP and move the tanneries from Hazaribagh but so far it could not do this for lack of expertise.
There is no shortage of fund for the task, he said.
The HC in June 2009 asked the government to either shift all the tanneries from the capital to a special industrial zone in Savar or shut them by February 28, 2010, to check widespread pollution of environment.
It expressed frustration over industrial pollution, and observed that the government has not taken any step to prevent pollution by industries.
The directives came following writ petitions by Bangladesh Environment Lawyers' Association (Bela) and Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (HRPB).
On February 28 last year, the court extended the deadline by six months after a time petition by the government and the Tannery Owners' Association seeking two years' time to relocate the tanneries.
The HC bench of justices Mamtaz Uddin Ahmed and Naima Haider also directed them to inform the court every three months on the steps taken to move those.
Bela's counsel Iqbal Kabir Lytton said the government and the association are placing same statements before the HC for taking time to implement its directives.
They have done nothing to set up the ETP and relocate the tanneries, he added.
And as the government and the association keep taking time, the toxic waste from the tanneries continues to pollute the Buriganga posing serious threat to human health.
Locals allege they frequently require treatment for skin diseases, fever, cough, asthma and diabetes.
"We're trying our level best. But I'm not sure when they will be relocated," Mahbubur Rahman, project director of Savar Leather Estate of Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC), told The Daily Star earlier. Rahman is responsible for the relocation.
The relocation process started nearly 10 years ago following an HC verdict in 2001. The government undertook a project to develop the leather estate at Harinbari in Savar at a cost of Tk 500 crore more than five years ago. The estate, however, remains unused and empty.
Daily StarJuly 3, 2011

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