At least 20 ‘tobacco dust factories’ in the Kaliganj and Aditmari upazilas (sub-districts) of Bangladesh have been in operation for years, without official permission and posing ‘serious health hazards’ to thousands of locals, according to a story in The Daily Star.
The factories apparently process the tobacco dust into smokeless tobacco products such as jarda and gul.
The story reported that, on the roadside at Baninagar village in the Kaliganj upazila, five such ‘illegal’ factories have been in operation for the past eight years.
The factories have been set up in the vicinity of homes, a primary school and a village market.
Locals said that though they had complained repeatedly to the appropriate authorities, the factories had not been closed. They did not know why.
A student was quoted as saying that he and his fellow students had to hold their noses while passing the factories on their way to and from school so as to protect themselves from the wretched smell.
And a local shopkeeper said that whenever the dust factories were in operation, he was unable to stay for long at his shop.
But an owner of one of the tobacco dust factories at Baninagar village said tobacco dust did not pollute the environment and that the factories provided employment opportunities for many locals.