POST TIME: 3 March, 2017 00:00 00 AM
relocation of tanneries from Hazaribagh
Owners skip yet another deadline

relocation of tanneries from Hazaribagh

A total of 112 Hazaribagh tanneries out of 155 are yet to relocate to the newly established Savar tannery village despite the expiry of the deadline on February 28, the eighth set by the government. According to sources, only 43 factories have so far shifted to Savar from the city’s Hazaribagh.
The tannery owners are now saying they would need time till June–July to fully relocate. Meanwhile, the High Court yesterday gave two weeks to 154 tanneries operating in Hazaribagh to pay Tk. 308.5 million as penalty for not moving to Savar within the stipulated time.
The Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) has allocated 205 plots to Savar tanneries, while the government has already given Tk. 250 crore to 155 tannery owners to relocate. What’s more, the central effluent treatment plant (CETP) is already in place there.
“Only 43 factories have started production in the Savar tannery village. We are getting only 2,000–2,500 cubic metres of waste daily against a requirement of 10,000 cubic metres to run the CETP,” Abdul Qaiyum, project director of the Savar Tannery Industrial City, told The Independent yesterday.
“But we have to run it despite the insufficient amount of waste for the sake of the environment,” he said.  He said there was no scope to extend the deadline any further.
Around 50 tanneries are ready to relocate to Savar within 15 to 20 days, Md Shakhawat Ullah, general secretary of the Bangladesh Tanners’ Association (BTA), told this correspondent.
“It will take up to June–July to relocate all the factories to Savar from Hazaribagh. A total of 44 factories has already been shifted. We are regularly holding meetings and putting pressure on the owners to immediately shift their units,” the BTA general secretary said.
The BTA had written to its members, asking them not to bring raw hide to Hazaribagh.
Criticising environmentalists, he said, “We are sincere about shifting our factories. The environmentalists have no role other than filing cases against us to take credit. The factory owners are counting money to pay fines.”
Industries minister Amir Hossain Amu had said on February 5 that all the tannery factories would be shifted to Savar by February 28 this year.
Earlier, on October 16, 2016, the minister had said the December deadline was the final one. But the government failed to make the tannery owners move from Hazaribagh within the successive time-frames. On January 10, 2016, Amu had asked tannery owners to shift their units within 72 hours and directed the authorities to serve legal notices. Later, however, the authorities extended the deadline to April 3 and then to April 30.
In 2001, the High Court (HC) had directed the government to shift the factories from Hazaribagh to Savar, considering the critical situation of the Buriganga due to the discharge of highly toxic untreated chemical waste from tanneries. By 2003, untreated waste from more than 200 tanneries had virtually turned the Buriganga into a noxious pool.