Even though the relocation of the tannery industry from Dhaka’s Hazaribagh to Savar was said to stop pollution to Buriganga, the same has now appeared as a killer of Dhaleshwari as untreated wastes of different tanneries are being released into the river.
According to experts, Dhaleshwari River is being seriously polluted by the untreated liquid wastes as those are mixing into the river water through surface drainage from the central effluent treatment plant (CETP) in the relocated tannery industrial estate in Savar.
“The CETP project has, so far, failed to produce any good result,” said Dr Muzibur Rahman Howlader, Chairman of the National River Conservation Commission (NRCC).
He also stated that the NRCC has nothing to do to save the rivers as it (NRCC) has no authority to operate eviction drives.
Sources said, the tannery wastes are highly contaminated by different chemicals, including chromium and cadmium, which cause cancer and other complex health risks.
“Separated chromium cakes have been staked directly on the surface. The chromium is being seeped through the underground with the rainwater, and it may mix up with underground water table. Chromium is a heavy metal that potentially causes spread of cancer,” said the NRCC Chairman.
However, a ‘Chromium Recovery Unit’ (CRU) has not been set up in the relocated tannery estate in Savar even after a year has passed, sources said.
Experts say that if the underground water gets polluted by chromium, the whole area will turn uninhabitable, and there will be a serious environmental disaster.
Besides, the rivers surrounding Dhaka city are also being polluted from different industries, sources said.
According to NRCC, all 46 canals in Dhaka are under illegal occupation while moves are underway to recover 26 of those.
However, the effort of the authorities concerned to recover the grabbed river lands and stop pollution is too inadequate while the NRCC can only make recommendations.
“If the Commission had the power to take action, they would demolish illegal encroachments from the rivers,” said the NRCC Chairman.
He said they have been given an important work by the government to save rivers, but they need power to take actions against grabbers and polluters when stakeholders fail to take actions.
In September 2013, the government passed the NRCC act to protect country’s rivers and from that act was formed the NRCC in 2014.