Hazaribagh: A Thousand Polluted Gardens
Project info

Having read a Human Rights Watch report about the environmental and human cost of Bangladesh's leather industry, I set out to document Hazaribagh, home to Bangladesh's famous leather industry.

Hazaribagh literally means “ A thousand Gardens,” but today aquatic life can barely survive in the surrounding waters due to the high levels of toxins in them. Numerous tanneries and factories surrounding the Buriganga river, a main source of drinking water for Dhaka, leak the untreated waste water containing toxic chemicals directly into the river. The result is soaring cancer levels in the surrounding area. According to a World Health Organisation report, it is estimated that 90% of the workers in Hazaribagh will die before reaching 50 and was labelled the 5th most polluted location in the world in a study of the World’s worst polluted places by the Blacksmith Institute and Green Cross Switzerland in 2013.

My project documented the livelihoods of those currently working and living in the area as well as the environmental impact of Bangladesh’s leather industry. I felt little attention was being given to how talks for a move of tanneries would affect their lives having depended on the formal and informal economy provided by the tanneries presence for so long.