Maize Advance Agro Refineries Limited (MAAR Ltd.) has allegedly been dumping untreated toxic industrial waste into the Ekhtiarpur canal in Habiganj’s Madhabpur Upazila, Bangladesh. MAAR Ltd. started operation in Bangladesh in 2012. The local environment administration has conducted an investigation and found various breaches of environmental and water pollution. Despite this, MAAR Ltd. has continued to operate without the renewal of environmental clearance.
MAAR Ltd. claims the factory uses an effluent treatment plant (ETP) to remove toxins from the water before disposal. However, Syeda Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of Bangladesh Environment Lawyers Association (BELA), told The Daily Star that their ETP is not functional.
For many residents, the canal serves as the primary water source for agricultural and everyday purposes. Recent reports claim that several people, including children, have been suffering various health impacts, such as skin disease, after coming into contact with the water. Local community members have reported the deaths of livestock and a reduction in fish in the canals as a result of the pollution. The polluted water has also eroded the canals’ banks, causing flooding and loss of nearby crops. Local community members who have spoken out against the water pollution have faced intimidation and harassment.
In August of 2020, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA)/Friends of the Earth Bangladesh conducted a field visit and community consultation in Ektiapur to observe the allegations of improper disposal of industrial waste. BELA is in the process of filing a writ petition against MAAR Ltd. and is supporting community organising efforts to put pressure on the government and the polluting companies for redress.
Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific stands in solidarity with the communities impacted by MAAR Ltd.’s destructive and illegal operations. We condemn any act of violence towards environmental defenders and demand that the perpetrators behind such crimes are held accountable, and justice be served.
We call on the People’s Republic of Bangladesh to:
- Establish and ensure protections for environmental human rights defenders, who increasingly face intimidation, criminalisation, and acts of violence,
- Take strict actions against Maize Advance Agro Refineries Limited (MAAR Ltd.), and immediately halt their entire operations,
- Urgently clean-up the village areas and affected water bodies,
- Form a committee to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into all factories and chemical producing companies located near any body of water in Bangladesh, to ensure that they are operating with environmental clearance and adhering to adequate effluent treatment plant processes, and
- Hold all companies in the region accountable for negative social and environmental impacts caused as a result of their operations.
Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific and Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association call on the international community to take action.
- Share this statement in solidarity with the impacted communities,
- Copy and share one of the images below on social media with the hashtags #SaveOurCanals #ZeroWaterPollution
For more information contact:
Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific
Md Khurshed Alam
Head of Programs,
Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association