Chemical waste from privately-owned Equ Paper Mill Ltd beside Dhaka-Dinajpur highway in Saidpur upazila is pouring into the Khorkhoria river, polluting environment and effecting on biodiversity. During a visit to the area on Tuesday, this correspondent found toxic waste and chemical continuously coming out of a concrete pipe from the mill at Shaskandar village and mixing with water through a culvert. Constructed by the owner of the mill, the culvert lies at right embankment of the river.Abdul Mazid Babu, 30, of nearby Kundal village, said the marine species have disappeared from eight kilometer long segment of the river stretching from Shaskandar to Patwaripara due to the presence of harmful chemicals in the water. Abdul Hakim, a resident of Eidgah area, said the river is so badly polluted that its water is unsuitable for use even after treatment.“If we take bathe here, we suffer from scabies,? he said.A number of fishermen and farmers like Moksed Ali, Abdul Mannan and Mokbul said once they used to catch fish and use the river water for irrigation, but they cannot do it now.
“Chemical waste from the mill discharging into the river is so seriously effecting on biodiversity that no aquatic plants can’t grow posing threat to human existence,? said Shahin Jahangir Alam, executive director of local NGO ‘Camp’ working to protect environment.Demanding the authorities’ concerned stern action to stop this unlawful activities, hundreds of people blocked Dhaka-Dinajpur highway and also besieged the mill a few months ago which was withdrawn after an hour as the local administration assured of taking steps to resolve the matter, said villagers.Siddikul Alam, managing director of the mill, said “We have waste purifying machinery called ETP and a good number of people are maintaining livelihood by working in the mill.? Stern action will be taken soon after investigating into the matter, said Mihir Lal Sardar, assistant director of Directorate of Environment in Rangpur.