So, at long last the problem with the central effluent treatment plant (CETP) at Savar tannery estate is going to be over! Reports, quoting industries ministry officials, say the much talked about CETP is now fully operational with all its four units engaged in treating chemical and solid waste. The reason why the CETP at the tannery estate causes serious concern is the stalemate it has been through for the past years with virtually no move forward. As a result, the purpose for which the tannery hub got relocated from Hazaribagh to Savar did not seem to make sense in the absence of the fully functional CETP. This is not just a case of delayed project implementation but of one that questions the authority's grasp of the issue in its entirety and gravity.
No doubt, it was the facility promised by the CETP - of treating all kinds of tannery waste - that prompted the decision to relocate the age-old tannery hub from Hazaribagh in an attempt to save the Buriganga and adjoining localities from extremely harmful pollution. But soon after the relocation was made, after repeated postponements, the shocker that did strike the tannery owners and local inhabitants living close to the Savar estate was that the CETP was only partially ready and that it was not equipped to deliver the services it was meant for. As a result, the relocation seemingly meant relocation of pollution-from Buriganga to Dhaleswari. Amid the lingering impasse, the authorities kept harping on doing the needful but sadly, at the expense of their credibility. Now, although the industries ministry has assured full operational status of the CETP, there are many who may not still be at ease to think that things are finally fixed once and for all.
Tannery is known to contain the highest level of waste, particularly toxic waste, among all industries. About 20 per cent of the large number of chemicals used in the tanning process is absorbed by leather, while the rest is released as waste. So, a nonfunctional CETP can cause havoc, as has been the case with the Savar tannery estate. The entire leather industry is bearing too heavy a brunt. There are reports of foreign buyers refusing to procure products from the estate-- a grossly noncompliant hub as regards waste treatment and environmental mitigation. Needless to say, it was the urgent need to render the leather estate compliant in all respects that underscored the main purpose of relocation. Under the circumstances, many enterprises in the estate are not in a position to initiate business expansion plans including export marketing plans. As things stand now, the fully operational CETP in the Savar estate is more than just a relief from the long lingering standoff, but a signal for the leather industry to look up to its future prospects. One only hopes the announcement of the CETP as fully operational is, mercifully, no hoax.