Toxic textile waste polluting Louhajang river in Tangail

polluted riverUntreated toxic waste released from dying and printing units of a textile mill in Tangail Sadar upazila is polluting Louhajang river. The pollution which is going on for several years now is threatening fish resources, crops and the greenery, locals said. The local administration can not take action against the mill authorities for pollution as it managed permission from the Directorate of Environment (DoE). Alauddin Textile Mills was set up at Khudirampur in 1995 on three acres of land beside the Dhaka-Tangail road. According to Factory Act, the mill authorities have to dispose of the chemical waste in a pond or pit in its compound. But the they release the waste into adjacent Louhajang river through three pipes since the mills operation began, the locals said. When contacted, sources in Tangail district administration said the mill authorities were given reminders on several occasions to install its own waste treatment facilities. Finally, on August 14 last year, it was given one month's time to make arrangement for disposing of the toxic waste in a safe place within its compound.

But the Alauddin Textile Mills (ATM) Ltd did not care the order. The mill authorities procured a letter from the Directorate of Environment allowing it to operate, promising that a treatment unit would be installed within a year. But nothing has been done yet. Somnath Lahiree, an official of Bangladesh Environment Lawyers Association (BELA) in Tangail, said the mill has been polluting the river water for long but the district administration can not take any action against the mill authorities as they collected a paper from the DoE. Dr Azharul Islam, a skin specialist, said diseases are spreading fast in villages on Louhajanj river banks as they use the toxic water. Some fishermen told this correspondent that fish resources have decreased in the river due to pollution.

Farmers in the area said lands using water from the river and its tributaries are becoming barren day by day. Different kinds of crops and vegetables were produced in adjoining villages including Khidirampur, Bhatkura, Kumullee, and Goshaibari few years ago. These do not grow well in the areas following use of toxic water, they said. When contacted over cellphone, Mohammad Atoar Rahman, manager of Alauddin Textile Mills, admitted pollution of the river by toxic waste from the mill. "We have already taken a plan to set up a treatment unit", he said (Mirza Shakil, Tangail , Daily Star, July 3, 2006).

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