154 toxic tanneries to be closed in Dhaka

Indo Asian News Service

Dhaka, March 6 (IANS) A Bangladesh High Court on Monday ordered 154 toxic tanneries here to shut down.

The order came after Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) filed a writ petition, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to the court, the tanneries will remain shut until they are shifted from Hazaribagh to a new cluster in Savar.

The court also ordered relevant authorities to shut down utility services, including gas line, and power and water supply, of the tanneries which damage the environment.

Another High Court bench on Thursday gave two weeks to the tanneries to pay 308.5 million taka ($3.75 million) as penalty for not shifting to Savar.

In June last year, the court ordered the tanneries to pay 50,000 taka each to the national exchequer a day in compensation for polluting the environment until they shift to Savar.

The tanneries later moved the Supreme Court against the order. The amount was then revised to 10,000 taka a day. One Bangladeshi taka equals 13 US cents.

In 2001, the high court ordered these tanneries to relocate to Savar but the order was not executed.

Hazaribagh is home to 95 per cent of Bangladesh's leather tanneries and none of them has an effluent treatment plant as required by the country's environmental and labour laws.

Against this backdrop, Dhaka's Hazaribagh residents, who often complain of skin diseases and respiratory illnesses, have been living in one of the world's most contaminated urban environments.

The workers inthe tanneries also suffer from health problems as they work with extremely hazardous chemicals with little protective equipment.

Bangladesh exports finished leather to over 30 countries, including China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands and Vietnam.

According to the Export Promotion Bureau of Bangladesh, earnings from export of leather and its products in Fiscal Year 2015-16 grew 15.31 per cent to $1,160.95 million.