HC summons industries secretary over tannery relocation in Bangladesh

The High Court today summoned the industries secretary to appear before it on May 19 for not relocating tannery industries from Hazaribagh in the capital in line with its directive.

The bench of Justice Md Ashfaqul Islam and Justice Kashefa Hussain came up with order after hearing a petition moved by Manzill Murshid on behalf of Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh.

Industries Secretary Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan has to appear before the HC by 10:30am on May 19 to explain why the government has not relocated hazardous tanneries form Hazaribagh, although it has directed for doing so several years back, Manzill Murshid told The Daily Star.

The HC on June 23, 2009 directed the government to relocate the tanneries from Hazaribagh to save the Buriganga river from pollution by February 28, 2010. The same court later extended the deadline for six months.

On October 30, 2010, the HC gave them six more months to relocate those.

The industries ministry took a project to move the industry to the new tannery town in Savar in 2003. And 155 industrial plots were also allocated there for this purpose.

But there has been no progress in relocating the factories due to negligence of the officials concerned, and the delay in implementation reportedly increased the project cost to Tk 1,079 crore from 175.75 over a decade.

Following another petition moved by Manzill Murshid, the HC on April 15 last year issued a contempt of court rule against 14 present and former government officials for failing to ensure relocation of tanneries from the area.

The tanneries in Hazaribagh discharge around 22,000 cubic litres of toxic waste into the Buriganga every day, according to the DoE.

In a 2012 report, the Human Rights watch said the Hazaribagh tannery area is one of world’s most polluted places that affect people’s health living around those.

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