15 December 2021

The Bangladesh Environment Ministry is now pursuing action to close the Savar Tannery Industrial Estate until sufficient water treatment facilities can be put in place but this decision would cause more problems than it could solve. Tom Hogarth reviews the situation. ILM Comment.

In August, ILM contributor Sam Setter wrote: “I have written over and again that the CETP in the Savar tannery cluster is a total disgrace. Until now, nobody in government and industry alike has been willing to look reality in the eye and take the necessary decisions. Everybody is walking around the cake, without taking a bite out of it.”

Undoubtedly, this has been the feeling across the industry from those directly involved or supporting the progress at Savar to tanners watching from afar – it’s about time. To provide some context for the irreversible effects of the tanning complex remaining open without a sufficient common effluent treatment plant (CETP), the Bangladesh Department of the Environment tells us that, in the last three years, the estate has dumped around 160,000 cubic metres of waste into the Dhaleshwari river.

This is a catastrophic level of pollution and, furthermore, fleshings and trimmings dumped into nearby fields have undoubtedly caused further issues by leaching into and contaminating groundwater. Italian bio-stimulant producer ILSA has submitted a proposal to take over waste management at the complex, with the intention of recycling it into biogas and fertilisers but, at this stage, there is no reason to believe this arrangement will materialise in time to solve the pollution issue.

To read the rest of this article on the problems faced at Savar by ILM Deputy Editor, Tom Hogarth, click on ILM Comment – Savar and its Closure

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