A so-called ‘commercial area' has been built up in the Shyampur residential area, posing as a health hazard to the local residents.
The factories there are discharging toxic chemical waste into the river Buriganga, creating pollution as harmful as produced by the Hazaribagh tanneries. The government, incidentally, is trying to relocate the Hazaribagh due to environmental and health concerns.
The chemical waste pervades Shyampur residential area, mixed with water and emitting an awful stench. Residents said household metal items are corroding because of the harmful chemicals in the air.
Prothom Alo took a sample of the polluted water to Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) and had it tested. The presence of sulphide and sulphate was detected, 150 to 200 times higher than the tolerable rate.
The factories owners have not installed any effluent treatment plants (ETP) in their factories. As a result, the waste emitted from the factories dissolves in the Buriganga and pollute the environment.
People are terming this area as 'another Hazaribagh'.
There are 200 factories at Shyampur, most of which are rerolling factories, dying factories, and steel mills.
Of the 200 factories, ETP is essential for 65, but only five of them have installed this. Even then, only four are operational.
Meherjan Begum, a resident of the area said "Polluted water is constantly flowing in and the stench is bad. It is really difficult to live here."
Sample water from three different spots was tested by BUET's Bureau of Research, Training and Consultation (BRTC). The results showed excessive level of Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) and Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD). This mean the water there is overly polluted.
BUET's professor of civil engineering Mujibur Rahman said "The most harmful substance in these samples is sulphite. High sulphite presence causes the stench and its gaseous form is rusting all metal items in the area."
Dean of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU)’s faculty of medicine Professor ABM Abdullah said those who are living in the adjacent areas are the most affected victims, inhaling the harmful chemicals with the air. "These toxic substances enter and remain within the human body, increasing the level of harm, causing asthma, skin diseases and other ailments," he said.
Water expert Mujibur Rahman said, "Buriganga is being turned into a waste dump, the water quality shows. The river is being destroyed after the lives of the people there was made unbearable."
The department of environment conducted drives there, but nothing changed. The local people and their member of parliament (MP) Abu Hossain halted the drive.
Acting director (Enforcement) of the department of environment Mohammed Alamgir was leading the drive. He said it was rather unfortunate that an MP stopped their efforts.