Though the extended deadline for the relocation of tanneries from the city’s Hazaribagh area expires on Sunday, no sign was seen on Saturday to move those to the designated leather industrial park in Savar.Industry insiders said it is impossible to meet the April-10 deadline, as the relocation of their factories will take a few more months.
Visiting a number of tanneries in Hazarigbagh on Saturday, this correspondent found that no factory authorities started shifting machinery to the 200-acre Savar Tannery Estate.
Many tanneries were seen continuing their operations with the rawhides they received earlier.
But, the rawhide supply to Hazaribagh still remained suspended though the deadline was extended from March 31 to April 10, many alleged.
Chairman of the Bangladesh Tanners’ Association (BTA) Shahin Ahmed said it is possible for many tanneries to be shifted within three-four months next, while all tanneries to be relocated within this year.
Apparently admitting that the deadline is going to be missed again, he said, “The tannery owners don’t sit idle. Despite having sincerity, it’ll not be possible for most tanneries to get relocated within a short time.”
Shahin Ahmed claimed that the Central Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) at Savar is yet to be ready for operation, an allegation denied by the Project Director of the Tannery Estate.
Reliance Tannery started operation in Savar, but its effluents were supplied directly without treatment through the CETP, the BTA chairman said.
Visiting a number of tanneries, including Helal Tannery, Luna tannery, Amin tannery, LIB Tannery and Madina Leather Complex, the UNB correspondent found no sign to start the relocation process.
Workers of the tanneries said rawhide supply remain suspended since March 31, which has affected their production.
BTA Director SM Mohsin said some 6,000 to 8,000 rawhides are supplied to Hazaribagh tanneries a day. If the rawhide supply remains suspended for a long time, the sector will suffer badly as rawhides are damaged in 20-25 days when preserved outside the factories.
He said buyers have already stopped issuing new orders with the government’s action to stop rawhide supply.
Project Director of the Tannery Estate Abdul Quayum said two units of the Central Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) of the industrial park have been fully ready to go into operation.
The CETP now can process 12,500 cubic meters of wastage from some 50-60 factories. But, at least 5,500 cubic meters of wastages are needed to run the CETP. So, the operation of at least 30 factories is essential, the project director said.
“Some 28 tanneries can start their operations in Savar within today or tomorrow (Sunday), if they want,” he added.
A total of 138 tanneries have so far applied for electricity connections. Of them, demand notes were issued against 87 tanneries. As of Thursday last, eight tanneries have already deposited money getting the demand notes.
Besides, 30 tanneries so far applied for water connection. Of them, one tannery has got the full-pledged water connection, he added.
The government on April 1 last suspended rawhide supply to Hazaribagh tanneries as the tanners had failed to meet the March-31 deadline like several deadlines in the past to relocate their tanneries.
But, the government extended the March-31 deadline till April 10 following a request from the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC), the implementing agency of the leather estate project.
The government initially took the three-year project in 2003 to set up the industrial park to relocate some 205 tanneries from Hazaribagh considering health and environmental hazards. It has allotted 155 plots at the leather estate among tanners and provided them Tk 250 crore as compensation for shifting their industrial units.
Some 21,000 cubic metres of untreated toxic waste are released every day from the Hazaribagh tanneries into the Buriganga River, posing a serious risk to human and animal health.