Untreated waste from yarn dyeing mills poses health hazard in Sirajganj

Toxic water released from several yarn dyeing and processing mills in Belkuchi upazila of Sirajganj district is polluting the local environment, causing untold suffering to thousands of people and posing serious health hazard. Influential people set up the mills in an unplanned way without any treatment plant and drainage system, by managing some unscrupulous officials of the relevant sections, said local residents. Over 100 yarn dyeing and processing mills at different villages including Tamai, Shohagpur, Garamashi, Chala, Chandangati and Mukundagati have no treatment plant and they were set up without permission from the authorities concerned, locals said. Eleven of the mills owned by Aziz Sarker, Hiron Munshi, Labu Shaikh, Anwar Hossain, Badol Khan, Abdul Kader, Hiron Sarker, Babu Salam, Rejaul Karim, Khokon and Abdul Motin at Tamai village are posing most serious threats, they said. Toxic chemicals like sulphuric acid, acetic acid, hydrogen-per oxides, caustic soda, bleaching powder, silicate, glace and colours are used in these mills to treat the thread or cottons. After releasing from the mills, the untreated water is mixed with ponds and marshes in the area and creates serious health hazards. An acute crisis of pure and clean drinking water is prevailing in the area as toxic wastes from the mills are mixed with the under ground water, turning water from the tube-wells yellowish. Many people are being affected with skin diseases, diarrhoea, dysentery, eye infection and nausea due to use of the water. Mukti Khatun, 35, wife of Golam Kibria of Tamai village, said she has been suffering from skin diseases for the last few years. Her seven-year-old child has been affected with gastric disease by drinking the toxic water, she quoted doctors as saying. The toxic water has damaged fertility of hundreds of acres of croplands and fishes of ponds and marshes in the area. Many fruit bearing trees in the area have died while taking of the toxic wastes from drinking the water also caused the death of domestic animals and fowls including cows, goats, ducks, hens, villagers said. Many houses made of corrugated iron sheets in the area became rusty and got damaged within a short time due to the vapour and toxic waste of the mills. The atmosphere in and around of the mills has become seriously dirty and unhygienic, as the water remains stagnant in absence of proper drainage system. Azam Khan, Dulal Mollah, Mohsin Pramanik, Fazlur Rahman and Zamal Uddin of Tamai village said several times they went to Belkuchi upazila Sanitary Inspector Mohammad Ali Jinnah to discuss with him about the ways to get rid of the problem but he ignored them. They also submitted petitions to the deputy commissioner in Sirajganj, UNO in Belkuchi, director of Department of Environment (DoE) in Bogra, Rab and Army to take initiative for saving the environment, but to no effect. Even a case was lodged with Belkuchi Police Station in this connection against the mills owners. The complainants said Director of DoE Bogra office Mosharraf Hossain misbehaved with them and threatened to get them arrested by police, if they further demand proper action against the mills owners. Contacted over phone three times, Mosharraf Hossain declined to make any comment saying that there was network problem and he was busy. Aziz Sarker, owner of SI process mill, said, no one of authorities concerned ever asked him to stop the mill or set up a treatment plant since its establishment. Belkuchi Upazila Nirbahi Officer Khairul Alam Sheikh said he has written to the authorities concerned suggesting setting up of necessary treatment plants in the area.