Power plant fined Tk 20 lakh for polluting Halda River

Production suspended

Special Correspondent
The Department of Environment on Wednesday suspend production of Picking power plant in Hathazari upazila and fined it Tk 20 lakh on charge of polluting Halda river by dumping wastes.
The power plant was also asked to stop production until completion of Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP).
The DOE gave the order to the authorities of the 100 mw power plant during hearing on Wednesday on allegation of polluting the river by dumping wastes.
Muktadir Hassan, assistant director of DoE, said after visiting the power plant they found evidence of environment pollution by running the plant without setting up Liquid Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) and dumping waste into the river.
Legal steps will be taken against it fails to comply with the order.
The Halda River is the one and the only natural carp breeding ground in Bangladesh from where fertilized carp fish’s (Catla catla, Labeo rohita, Labeo calbasu and Cirrhinus mrigala) eggs are collected by local fisherman and egg collectors during April to June almost every year for time immemorial. The collected eggs are hatched in the artificial mud-made scoop on the riverbank to produce carp fries. The fry from here are supplied to different regions of the country for aquaculture.
Different activities like destruction of spawning ground by ox-bow cutting, massive quarry of sands from river bed illegally by a section of unscrupulous traders, pollution of the river by industrial waste, unplanned construction of a good number of sluice gates by the locals for irrigation purpose, indiscriminate catching and killing of the brood fishes and the climate change have posed a serious threat to the bio-diversity of the Halda.
In 2010, the government had declared 40km of the Halda river – from Nazirhat to Kalurghat – as a sanctuary for aquatic animals.
To help preserve the aquatic balance, the plying of mechanized boats in the river is prohibited between March and July every year.
Earlier the government decided to declare the 107km stretch of river as an Ecologically Critical Area (ECA); from its origin at Khagrachhari’s Ramgarh Upazila to the confluence of Karnaphuli River in Chittagong, to protect its ecology and biodiversity . A draft gazette was issued in this regard on March 31 , 2018 to facilitate comments from stakeholders.
Meanwhile, the Department of Environment (DoE) on July 9 issued a show-cause notice to state-owned 100MW Hathazari Peaking Power Plant on charge of releasing untreated toxic liquid waste into a water body linked to Halda river, Bangladesh’s largest natural breeding ground for carp.
A DoE team from Chittagong district office conducted a spot investigation and found that the power plant was dumping untreated liquid waste into a water body, through a bypass drain, which is a punishable offence as per Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act-1995 (Amended 2010), and Bangladesh Environment Conservation Rules-1997 (Amended 2002).
Azadur Rahman Mollick, director of DoE, summoned the power plant authorities to explain as to why legal action should not be taken against them for polluting environment through discharging liquid waste.
Maidul Islam, DoE Inspector of Chittagong district, told the media that the untreated liquid waste discharged by the power plant would take a heavy toll on the biodiversity particularly the aquatic animals of the Halda.
“The errant power plant was earlier warned verbally for not setting up an Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP). This time the power plant waited for an opportune moment and released waste during heavy rains,” said the DoE Inspector.
Noted Halda researcher Prof Dr Manzoorul Kibria said: “The environment-damaging practice of the power plant is nothing new. We have been alleging for a long time that the power plant releases untreated waste threatening the aquatic environment of Halda river. This time our allegation has been proven as the plant was caught red handed. Such harmful activities by a state-owned enterprise is unacceptable.

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