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Sarker Shariful Islam, Rajshahi
We are facing a serious health hazard due to emission of toxic ammonia gas from exposed urea fertiliser stored under open sky since long. Whenever we go out, our eyes become itchy and tears roll down, as if we are weeping all the time. Moreover, we are forced to cover our nose to get rid of the terrible stench coming out of the fertiliser.
The residents of Seroil colony and its adjacent densely populated areas came up with the allegation at a press conference organised Thursday at a restaurant in Rajshahi. Syeda Shamsunnaher Mukti, fellow of Democracy International and also an executive member of city unit of Awami League (AL), addressed the press conference on behalf of the residents of Seroil colony.
At the press conference, Shamsunnahar said, “Due to such environmental pollution, residents of the area are being attacked with various diseases including asthma, bronchitis and breathing complexities. Children are also major victims of the unhealthy and unhygienic environment.”
“The reason behind such pollution is emission of toxic ammonia gas from the melted urea fertiliser amassed in a field in front of the storehouse of Bangladesh Chemical Industries. The gas nearly suffocates the children and the elderly people,” she alleged, adding that residents of the locality demand the BCI storehouse to be shifted elsewhere from the area.
Mentionable, suffering from various diseases due to the toxic effect of ammonia, the residents of Seroil colony have been demanding the store house to be shifted elsewhere but in vain.
It is learnt that about 100 families of Seroil colony living near BCI godown. Stench
At the press conference, Shamsunnahar said, “The storehouse is always laden with excessive fertiliser out of its capacity. These excess fertilisers are left under open sky outside the godown. The fertiliser gets melted in sunshine and rain, producing toxic ammonia gas with unpleasant smell which suffocates the local residents. People who live beside the godown area always suffer from itchy, tearful eyes, hiccups and other diseases.”
Informing that her chamber is situated beside the BCI godown, the lawyer said, “It is just impossible to sit inside the chamber; and at night, the toxic emission becomes unbearable.”
Her clients did not visit her chamber due to the stench, she added. Anowar Hossain, a grocer at the locality informed, during day time, the sunshine melts the fertilizer. In the afternoon and at evening the unpleasant odour of ammonia becomes so horrible that it is unbearable to the residents.
Marium Begum, another resident of the locality told Bangladesh Post that they always try to avoid the road beside BCI godown.
“Whenever we need to walk through the road, we wrap our mouth and noses with pieces of cloths,” she said. The press conference was also attended, among others, by organising secreatary of Rajshahi BNP Golam Mostafa Mamun, and Vice President of AL ward unit Badsha Sheikh.
Observing the problem ammonia emission from fertiliser is not a political problem, it is a problem of people of the area, they said, “People of the area want to breathe in fresh air.”
The speakers at the press conference also mentioned that 150 people of the locality collected mass signatures earlier on February 8 and submitted it to the Department of Environment (DoE). But, so far no action has been taken.
They threatened to start a movement if the BCI store house is not shifted from the area soon.
While contacted, Deputy Director of Rajshahi DoE Mamun Ur Rashid told the Bangladesh Post: “The department has already sent a letter to BCI authorities requesting not to store fertiliser under open sky. But, the BCI authorities are yet to take any action in this regard.”
In this regard, Deb Dulal Dhali, Deputy Director of Rajshahi’s Agriculture Extension, said, “The BCI storehouse is managed from Dhaka. I have no authority to ask the concerned BCI store authority to shift the godown.”