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Bangladesh’s Ministry of Industry has given an ultimatum that no tanneries will be allowed to operate in Hazaribagh, a neighbourhood situated on the outskirts of Dhaka, after December 31.
All the tanneries are to be relocated to the Tannery Estate in Savar by the deadline. Non-respect of the order will lead tanneries to lose the plots that have been allocated as well as having gas, water, electricity and other utilities’ connections being cut off.
According to Amir Hossain Amu, Minister of Industry, despite being one of the emerging industries in the country, the leather and leather goods industry has not been able to exploit its full potential by failing to adopt environmental norms.
Around 95% of the country’s tanneries are located in Hazaribagh, one of the world’s most polluted cities. Most tanneries use outdated processing methods and dump around 22,000 cubic litres of untreated waste each day into Dhaka’s main river. The population lives on top of contaminated streams and canals and informal recyclers burn scraps of leather, further polluting the air.
Hazaribagh’s residents face elevated rates of skin and respiratory diseases, as well as acid burns, rashes, dizziness and nausea.
In September, Bangladesh’s exporters of finished leather, leather goods and footwear demanded extra government funds to help relocate tanneries, despite the negative press relating their poor environmental performance. Read more here.
Sources: Financial Express, Time