Bangladesh fac­to­ries or­dered shut to save key river from pol­lu­tion

Muscat Daily - - BUSINESS -

Dhaka, Bangladesh - Bangladesh’s High Court has or­dered the shut­down of 231 fac­to­ries that have con­trib­uted to Dhaka’s main river be­com­ing one of the world’s most pol­luted, a lawyer said on Tues­day.

The coun­try is criss­crossed by hun­dreds of rivers, but a re­cent in­dus­trial boom, in­clud­ing the emer­gence of the world’s sec­ond biggest gar­ment in­dus­try, has prompted of­fi­cials to turn a blind eye to the in­dus­trial waste they dump into rivers.

In a land­mark de­ci­sion hailed by ac­tivists, the court on Mon­day or­dered the au­thor­i­ties to take im­me­di­ate ac­tion against the 231 fac­to­ries in­clud­ing dye­ing and rub­ber plants and tan­ner­ies dump­ing ef­flu­ent into the Buri­g­anga.

“The court asked them to dis­con­nect all util­i­ties in­clud­ing elec­tric­ity, gas and wa­ter sup­plies to th­ese fac­to­ries,” lawyer Manzil Mur­shid, who filed the pub­lic in­ter­est lit­i­ga­tion, said.

“This or­der will go a long way to save the Buri­g­anga from an eco­log­i­cal dis­as­ter,” he told AFP.

The Buri­g­anga con­nects the cap­i­tal with the south­ern coastal dis­tricts through a net­work of rivers. For cen­turies it was the gate­way to the 400 year old city built by the Mughals.

But for decades more than 100 tan­ner­ies dumped in­dus­trial ef­flu­ent into the river, turn­ing it into one the world’s dirt­i­est waterways, ac­cord­ing to Ai­nun Nishat, a river expert.

Ac­cord­ing to the Hu­man Rights Watch, each day the tan­ner­ies would dis­charge some 21,000 cu­bic me­tres of un­treated waste con­tain­ing chromium, lead and other chem­i­cals into the Buri­g­anga.

Al­though un­der in­ter­na­tional pres­sure the tan­ner­ies were forced to re­lo­cate in 2017, hun­dreds of il­le­gal fac­to­ries, most con­structed without com­ply­ing with en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions, con­tin­ued to pol­lute the river.

“We wel­come the de­ci­sion be­cause th­ese fac­to­ries kept on pol­lut­ing the river as they didn’t have any ef­flu­ent treat­ment plants,” Nishat said, adding he hoped the au­thor­i­ties would over­come ‘po­lit­i­cal pres­sure’ to ex­e­cute the or­der.

National River Con­ser­va­tion Com­mis­sion of Bangladesh (NRCCB), the state-run le­gal guardian of all Bangladesh rivers, has called the ver­dict “a great achieve­ment”.


Work­ers scrub plas­tic bag used to carry in­dus­trial chem­i­cals in the Buri­g­anga river in Dhaka, Bangladesh

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