Tk 10,000 penalty daily until tannery shifted to Savar from city

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Dhaka, July 18: The Supreme Court on Monday ordered Hazaribagh tanners, who were yet to relocate their tanneries from city’s Hazaribagh to Savar, to pay Tk 10,000 daily as fine for damaging the environment until it relocated to Savar.

A four-member bench of the Appellate Division of the SC headed by Chief Justice SK Sinha revised the fine amount, which was Tk 50,000 earlier, following an appeal filed by the tanners association against the previous order.

In its order, the apex court said, half of the money will be given to Bangladesh Liver Foundation and rest of the money will be deposited to the government fund.

During the appeals hearing, Barrister Fazle Noor Taposh, counsel for the tannery owners, told the court that the owners of the tanneries, who were not able to relocate their tanneries to Savar, have been working from overnight to shift their factories to Savar. But, the government is yet to complete the work of the central effluent treatment plant (CETP) in Savar, he added.

Soon after the completion of the CETP work, the owners of the tanneries will shift their tanneries to Savar by this year, Taposh noted.

Later, the court reduced the fine at TK 10,000 from previous order TK 50,000.

After the apex court order, Advocate Manzill Murshid, counsel for the Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (HRPB), a human rights body, told reporters that the apex court’s verdict is a big progress towards relocation of the hazardous industry from Hazaribagh to Savar, the outskirts of capital city Dhaka.

In a verdict in 2001, the HC had directed the government to relocate the tanneries from Hazaribagh within two years to save the Buriganga from pollution. Later, it extended the deadline to February 2010.

The HC had extended the February 2010 deadline by another six months. On October 30, 2010, the HC gave tannery owners another six months to relocate their factories to Savar.

In response to appeals filed tanneries owners, the government had also set several deadlines for them to shift their units to Savar. On April 3 this year, on the expiration of an earlier deadline, the government had extended the deadline by another seven days. Although some owners shifted their tanneries, some are yet to comply with the directive.

Then, on June 16, the High Court ordered tanners to pay compensation of Tk 50,000 daily for damaging the environment following a petition filed by HRPB.

Tannery Owners Association and Bangladesh Finished Lather, Lather Goods, and Footwear Exporters Association moved separate petitions seeking stay of the HC order.

The chamber judge stayed the High Court order until July 18. But, after hearing on the appeals the apex court set a new compensation sum on the 154 tannery factories still operating at Hazaribagh.

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