Welding and engineering workshops have sprouted up in many residential areas in Khulna city. Most of which do not have valid licence have been doing business illegally, polluting environment and jeopardizing public health due to negligence of the Department of Environment (DoE), Khulna.
These mechanical shops, mostly located nearby different educational institutions and residential areas, are running their business causing nuisance to the local residents. It causes serious sound pollution. The flash of sparks during welding work also irritates the people as it causes ophthalmic ailment.
Besides, the welders employ child labours in their workshops are breaching the labour law. On an average, boys aged between 8 and 16 years make up the 80 percent of the labourers at the workshops.
The DoE, Khulna has no record of such workshops where different metals are welded under open sky jeopardizing public health. The shops have mushroomed in the areas including near Khulna Alia Madrasa at Khanjahan Ali Road, Siddiakia Mohalla, KDA Approach Road, Sheikhpara Loha Potti Area, Chandmari Bazaar Area, Khalishpur BIDC road, Farajipra Road, Daulatpur Area, Fulbarigate Area, most of which are the residential area in the city.
Coordinator of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) Khulna divisional unit Mahfuzur Rahman Mukul alleged, “The welding shop-owners run their works in open spaces in front of the shops, occupying the footpaths, which resulted in severe hazards to movement of pedestrians.” So far as I know these welders run shops without any government approval, Mukul claimed.
The DoE, Khulna officials said they were unaware of these shops and they had no statistics of the welding shops in the city and its adjoining areas.
A few welding shops took licences from DoE, Khulna office to run their activities, but information of the approved shops is not preserved
by the officials concerned, the sources said.
On the other hand, Director of DoE, Khulna division Habibul Haque Khan said they were already aware of the rampant setting up the welding shops in the region.
They also were sending notice to the shop owners for getting DoE certificate. However, he said it was quite impossible for them to keep the matter under strict watch because of acute work force shortage in the local DoE office, which has to deal with all the environment-related problems of 10 southwestern districts in the division.
“We are not able to properly oversee the activities of such shops due to various limitations including manpower and transports shortage,” he further said.
Another official of the Khulna DoE attributed the shortage of staff to not preserving the relevant documents of the approved welding shops and for not taking any step against the unauthorized shop owners.
He also said the Power Development Board (PDB) giving connection without getting DoE clearance. Due to this reason most of the welding shops illegally setup in the city.
Talking to the Bangladesh Post, Director of DoE, Khulna division Habibul Haque Khan said “We wrote letter to the Executive Engineers and General Managers of Palli Bidyut Samity in different districts requesting not to permit electricity connection to the illegal shops. But our request proved abortive. We have informed the secretary of the Power Division of the matter recently.”
He hopes that the higher authorities will take action in this regard.