DHAKA, March 6 (Xinhua) -- A High Court Division bench of Bangladesh on Monday ordered 154 toxic tanneries in capital Dhaka to shut down.
The bench of Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed and Justice Md. Salim passed the order upon a writ petition filed by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association or BELA.
According to the court ruling, the tanneries will remain shut down until they are shifted from Hazaribagh to a new cluster in Savar on the outskirts of the capital.
The court also ordered relevant government authorities to shut down utility services including gas line, power and water lines of the tanneries which damage the environment.
On Thursday, another High Court bench of Justice Md Ashfaqul Islam and Justice Ashish Ranjan Das gave two weeks to the tanneries to pay 308.5 million taka (about 3.75 million U.S. dollars) as penalty for not shifting to Savar.
In June last year, Bangladesh's High Court ordered the tanneries to pay 50,000 taka each to the national exchequer a day in compensation for polluting the environment until they shift to Savar.
The Tanneries later moved the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court against the order. The amount was then revised to 10,000 taka.
In 2001, Bangladesh's High Court ordered these tanneries to relocate to Savar but the order was not executed.
On June 23, 2009, the court once again ordered the relocation to be completed within Feb. 24, 2010.
The relocation orders suffered repeated setbacks as tanners said that they are yet to install rawhide processing facilities at the Savar park.
Hazaribagh is home to 95 percent of Bangladesh's leather tanneries while none of whom has an effluent treatment plant as required by the country's environmental and labor law.
Against this backdrop, Dhaka's Hazaribagh residents who often complain of skin diseases and respiratory illnesses have been living in one of the world's most contaminated urban environments.
The workers of the tanneries also suffer from health problems as they work with extremely dangerous chemicals with little protective equipment.
Bangladesh exports finished leather to over 30 countries including China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands and Vietnam.
According to the Export Promotion Bureau of Bangladesh, earnings from export of leather and leather products in Fiscal Year 2015-16 grew 15.31 percent to 1,160.95 million U.S. dollars. (1 Bangladeshi taka = 0.013 U.S. dollar)