There are registered tanneries in Bangladesh, and around percent are located at Hazaribagh on about 25 hectares of land. Most of these use old. An investigation was made at Hazaribagh Tannery area, comprising about industries of pollution to the soils by the heavy metals and to investigate the. Hazaribagh lies on the banks of the Buriganga (The Old Ganges). The river of the leather tanneries to a new location in Savar with modern treatment facilities.

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There are about leather tanneries in the Hazaribagh district of Dhaka, the capital. Some use modest technology and machinery, but most operate as they did decades ago and release untreated toxic chemical waste near residential areas. The first thing you notice when you walk through the streets of Hazaribagh is the horrible and seemingly all-pervasive stench of tanning chemicals. According to the Department of Environment, the tanneries discharge 22, cubic meters of untreated liquid toxic waste daily into the rivers, gutters and canals that run alongside in the roads of Hazaribagh.

Toxins are also leaching into groundwater. Business as usual in Hazaribagh. The tanneries evacuate 22, cubic meters of untreated liquid toxic waste daily into the Buriganga. The chemicals end up forming coloured ponds and lakes of toxic waste in residential areas and are causing much harm to the 20, people who work and live in the tanning district. Most are suffering from chronic respiratory problems, skin diseases and even destruction of the nasal septum.

Workers process rawhides with toxic chemicals such as chromium, sulfur and manganese to name a few. They handle leather skins soaked with acids and dyes with their bare hands in poorly ventilated tanneries where often the only light coming in is through cracks and openings in the walls. Workers stand knee deep without any protective clothing in tanning water as they transfer rawhides into another tank.

With his education, Rahman was fortunate to be able to move and look for another job.

‘Removal of Hazaribagh tannery cut Buriganga pollution by 40%’ | Dhaka Tribune

For most of the people in Tanbery this is simply not possible — they have no choice but to work and live there. A young girl lives and plays next to a brook of tannery wastewater.


The fumes released by the chemicals in polllution water can cause serious health problems. Thousands of people depend on the river daily for bathing, washing clothes, irrigation of food and transportation of goods. The river has suffered extreme biodiversity loss and has now turned black.

After decades of discussion on the topic, a relocation project was launched in to move the tannery district to a remote location near Savar, north of Dhaka, where all tanneries would share a Central Effluent Treatment Plant CETP as there is no room to build one atnnery Hazaribagh. Uncertainty looms among the residents of Hazaribagh over talk of moving the tanneries to an area outside of Dhaka. The project has languished mainly thanks to bureaucratic wrangling over the compensation fund and debates over who would pay for the treatment plant.

Initially, a memorandum of agreement was signed between the government and the tanning association, stating that the government was to bear the expense of the plant.

After subsequent review, the government then added a provision indicating that the tanning association would have to repay the cost of such a plant over the course of 20 years.

Colours of Water: Bangladesh’s Leather Tanneries

Enforcement of such laws would have a considerable impact on the condition of the Buriganga River as well as improving the health and safety of the population. The Buriganga Cleansing Project involves excavating 10 to 12 feet of sludge from the riverbed for a 3 km stretch and is set to last until June But sporadic efforts to cleanse the river are not enough considering that, while the project aims to remove 1, tonnes of sludge from the Buriganga riverbed each month, the tanning industry continues to feed 25, tonnes of untreated wastes and 40, tonnes of toxic chemicals into the river every d ay.

With little and old equipment, the riverbed excavation project aims to remove 3, tonnes of sludge from the riverbed. The mammoth task that has generated much skepticism in the media inches along at a snails pace.

Public pressure and media scrutiny will perhaps help. Certainly, the experts are calling for action. Rahman feels the answer lies in education:.

Over the black waters of the Buriganga, merchants unload shipments of fresh produce destined for city markets. So — for the sake of the Buriganga River, the ecosystems that depend on it, and the health of the people of Hazaribagh — all Bangladeshis and empathetic international community members should continue clamouring for the solid enforcement of relevant laws and the development of comprehensive governmental strategies that are followed through expeditiously.


His work on documentaries has been influential to his work as a photographer. He has been fortunate enough to work in Africa and recently in South East Asia. Daniel, The article and photo essay are excellent.

Everytime I show the photos to someone they are lost for words. How can this be possible? Why do we accept such a tragic way of life for so many people?

I am so impressed that you took the time to explore this issue and to try to bring it to public attention. Sadly it appears they are all asleep. The Govt Of Bangala Deish take a big step against the tanery owner of hazari baig all the owner make a treatment plant with the help of Govt all water first treat and then put in the river i am a leather techinicion i under stand the hazared of tanery poluted water on life govt take step as soon as possible i request all the leather company of the world they boycot the Bangla Deish Govt if it con,t take a step in this problum.

The relocation project of Bangladesh government — relocating the tanneries around factories from Hazaribagh area to Savar — is a very poor strategy to solve the environmental issues air, water and soil pollution in densely populated Dhaka.

On the other hand, there are lot more benefits of relocating in coastal area somewhere closer to the sea ports:. Highly valuable fresh water of rivers can be saved. A centralized effluent treatment is an obvious need for the leather industry of Bangladesh. So transportation cost can be minimized.

Tanneries need huge amount of salt which are cheaply available in coastal area at almost no cost. Tannery factories are extremely smelly.

They also cause serious soil pollution by disposing chemicals consisting of heavy metals.

The salty soil of less populated coastal areas is supposed pollhtion be a right choice to build an industrial park for leather industry of Bangladesh. BiodiversityEcosystemsWaterPollution. Author Daniel Lanteigne Filmmaker. Water Prospects In The 21st Century. Join the Discussion BrendanBarrett. On the other hand, there are lot more benefits of relocating in coastal area somewhere closer to the sea ports: