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Pollution mars Bangladesh RMG sector’s safety record

Bangladesh’s textile industry is known for its poor pollution control. Factories spew pollutants into local environs, disregarding their obligation for proper waste management. Considering the present level of release of untreated water into water bodies, it is estimated that every year from 2021 water bodies would receive 20,300 crore liters of untreated water. Such toxic industrial wastewater would threaten fisheries, biodiversity, and groundwater. Currently, textile industries use, on an average, 120 liters of water to dye and wash a kilogram of fabrics, and effluents are discharged into nearby rivers or wetlands without proper treatment.

Bangladesh has around 450 spinning mills, 1,200 weaving factories, and around 5,000 export-oriented dyeing and finishing factories. There are several thousand small dyeing and finishing factories catering to the needs of local markets as well. Only 1,376 textile factories have installed effluent treatment plants in their factories though Bangladesh has made effluent treatment plants mandatory for all plants in the textile industry and the leather industry.

Factories pumping out water for washing and dyeing fabrics have caused groundwater levels to drop in several apparel-industrial belts. Rivers and water bodies close to textile industrial zones are the major receivers of unprocessed effluents. Waste is dumped into rivers without being treated.