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21 February, 2020 11:35:07 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 21 February, 2020 11:35:35 AM
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Ramification of industrial development

Rivers are getting polluted by antibiotic manufacturing industries too
Polin Kumar Saha
Ramification of industrial development

In the recent decades, environmental pollution is a frequently pronounced word through different occurrences like air pollution, water pollution, land degradation etc. Behind many of these pollution sources, emerging industries are playing vital role of protagonist. Though the unplanned growing of industries are playing the vibrant role for sourcing pollution, but on the other hand, the industrialization process stimulates the country’s aspiration to join the middle income country group so far. Seems like we are trapped in a paradox. Even every country has to face this paradox while becoming a developed country.

We have no doubt that industries are everyday producing huge amount of wastes and discharging them into the water body with less or no proper treatment of the wastes. As consequences, about 11 per cent of rivers in Bangladesh have already become polluted by industrial waste. The most pollution induced industries like textile, tanneries, chemical industries, ship breaking industries, those are continuously degrading the environmental quality as a whole. Simultaneously textile industries are the biggest contributor to our GDP among all types of industries and cause of unbridled pollution by discharging salts, dyes, bleaches into the water body. According to the database of the department of inspection for factories and establishments, in Bangladesh, 217 million cubic meter of wastewater produced from textile industries in 2016 and will reach 349 million cubic meter by 2021. Everyday 20 public and 482 private textile industries are producing 40,000 cubic meter of wastes. Even it is supposed to be, but as the dominant percentage of textile industries doesn’t have Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP), so that these wastes are directly being discharged into river. Though the department of environment (DoE) is in charge of enforcing ETP’s operation in the red category industries (most polluting), they could not come up with declining pollution line in recent years. To recover the worst situation, a trend of fining industries has started to them who are not using ETP.

According to a news article from 2011-2016 about fines levied for water pollution by DoE showed a dataset with 290 records of fines, of which 255 were from textile industries. But the matter of regret is, another study revealed that no more than 69 per cent of fine was collected. Again in most cases the amount of fine isn’t enough. Even if a factory is fined an average of 1crore Taka twice a year, it would still be more economical to pay the fine than running a wastewater treatment plant. Tanneries are also keeping almost the same pace with the textile industries while degrading the environment. About 20,000 cubic meter of effluent and 232 tone of solid wastes are being generated daily from about 220 unit active tanneries while meeting the demand for about 10 per cent of world’s leather market.

Rivers are getting polluted by antibiotic manufacturing industries too. Recently a massive study was carried over the world’s major rivers to find out the level of antibiotic and the worst scenario was found in Bangladesh. The amount of Metronidazole antibiotic was found 300 times greater than the official safe level. This will result in spreading of resistant bacteria in human body. Again not enough studies were done to find out the amount of antibiotics in rivers of Bangladesh, or monitoring the existing situation. Even this environmental issue is being less highlighted.

Ship breaking industries added one more feather on deteriorating the environment. More than 350 re-rolling mills are actively mitigating 60 per cent of local demand of raw steel just by recycling the ship materials. In Bangladesh ships are scrapped in open beaches. As a result, harmful substances have easy access to the environment. A scrapped vessel provides us substances like Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP’s), Asbestos, thousand liters of oil; these are a threat to both human health and marine environment. In Bangladesh, ships are being cut up by hand, on open beaches, with no consideration given to safe and environmentally friendly waste management practices. Recently DoE authority paid a visit to Shitakundaupazila of chattagram, and found two out of eight recycling industries having functional waste management.

Along with the surface water, ground water is also being contaminated by industrial effluents. A study in 2014 showed that the amount of harmful metal (Fe, Mn, Cr, Zn, As, Ni, and Pb) in ground water exceeded both the WHO and the DoE standard in Savar industrial area. Industries are now playing the role of two edged knife. To bring synchronization between socioeconomic development and restoration of environmental quality, mitigation measures must be taken immediately. To control the pollution of water, ETP must be established in every red category industry. According to a study, the dominant barriers to ETP installation are at the purchase stage, rather than the construction stage. ETPs are unavailable in local markets and the tax is high, where tax can be reduced technically to promote ETP installation. Central ETP can be established in each industrial zone by the Government. In addition, export oriented industrial sector should face heavier punishment fines for polluting environment and ofcourse, fines must be collected accordingly. Cross country comparison and share of success stories under regional cooperation may accelerate this mitigation process. Also the DoE authority should be made strong and empowered with capable manpower, and to work with inter-ministerial or departmental joint enforcement team.

Finally, we can realize that our origin of life would be asked of many questions, if the environmental problem is not solved seriously now. In the near future, fresh water scarcity might be another major problem for the growing of industries as the existing water body is getting tremendously polluted. Based on a study, we can say additional 3400 billion liters of water will be needed by 2030 just to continue the as usual growth of textile industries which is equivalent to the annual demand of 75 millions of people. Safe disposal and reuse of waste water should be the one of prime concerns of government to overcome this paradox.

 

The writer is an environmentalist

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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