The High Court yesterday directed the authorities to complete the construction of all relevant structures, including the central effluent treatment plant (ETP), at the tannery estate in Savar in the next four weeks.
Though the construction of the ETP is almost done, work on the solid waste dumping yard has not even started yet. Besides, work of the administrative building, internal surface drainage line and dewatering house has not been finished.
In the order, the court asked the authorities to install necessary devices, including bar screen and sedimentation tank, in each factory so that chromium and heavy waste materials don't mix, and submit a report by November 12 upon complying with the directives.
A bench of Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed and Justice Md Salim passed the orders following a petition by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers' Association (Bela) seeking orders on the government bodies to prevent pollution in Savar.
Bela's Chief Executive Syeda Rizwana Hasan told The Daily Star that Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC), Department of Environment, industries ministry and tannery owners have to implement the directives.
The court asked the BSCIC authorities to run the ETP 24 hours a day until November 4 and submit an hourly chart for the court to see whether it would function properly round the clock. Until now, the ETP has been in operation at intervals.
The court instructed the designated Chinese contractor to finish the construction job of the administrative building so that BSCIC officials can monitor the operation of the ETP properly from that building.
Bangladesh Finished Leathers, Leather Goods, and Footwear Exporters' Association and Bangladesh Tanners Association were told to install devices in all factories to remove salt. So far, only four factories have installed salt removal devices out of 92 units.
The court asked the leather processing units to submit a long term and short term salt management plan and install filters to the drainage pipeline so that solid waste does not clog the pipes.
However, Prof Delowar Hossain, consultant of the BSCIC for installation of the ETP, told The Daily Star that the ETP was almost complete except for some finishing work.
“It will be possible to finish all tasks within one month.”
Quoting the local contractor, Delowar said it had not been working for a few days as the Chinese partner didn't make payments.
Asked about solid waste management, he said the authority had not passed the plan to build a solid waste dumping yard.
Following the court order, the industries ministry's lawyer Rais Uddin told reporters that his client had submitted a compliance report to the HC in line with earlier directives. Receiving the report, the HC yesterday instructed the stakeholders to act to prevent environment pollution in Savar.
Following the same petition, the HC on August 24 directed the authorities to operate 24 hours a day two modules of the ETP to treat tannery waste to prevent pollution of the Dhaleshwari river, and directed the tanners to install a salt treatment module in the ETP.