Explosion claims seven people’s lives
Ibrahim Khalil Jewel: Ten banks of the country are in new danger after seven people lost their lives in an explosion at Seema Oxygen Plant in Sitakunda of Chattogram. 10 banks including Mutual Trust, Mercantile, Pubali have given thousand crores of taka loans to various institutions of Seema Group. Now there is doubt about the recovery of these loan money.
The wife of a worker killed in the explosion filed a case of negligent homicide against the three owners of Seema Group. Apart from this, this group has not been able to regularly pay installments of loans to various banks since three years ago. They have defaulted in some banks. The factories of the group are also closing down one by one. These banks are in trouble with loans.
Rakib Hasan, Head of the Investigation Committee and Additional District Magistrate, said, “We are finding various types of errors while inquiring about various organizations of Seema Group. Although it once had a reputation, now the group has accumulated more than Tk 800 crore of debt in various banks. A case has also been filed against the three owners of the company. Several of their institutions are now in ruins. After the investigation, we will draw a conclusion about this institution.
Admitting that bad times have passed, Mamun Uddin, managing director of Seema Oxygen Plant,
said, “Suddenly, we are in great danger.” I hope to be able to turn around from here. But this task will be very difficult this time. We will pay off the loans we have in the bank. But it may take some extra time. First, I was freed from the oxygen plant accident. Then I will think about the bank loan.
Pubali Bank Chittagong Zonal Chief Deputy General Manager Akhtaruzzaman Sarkar said, “I am new to the workplace. I can’t tell the details. But our Sheikh Mujib Road branch has a huge amount of debt from Seema Group. Several letters have been given to them to repay the loan.
Seema Group’s debt to Mutual Trust, Mercantile and Pubali Bank has crossed Tk 800 crore. In 2018, the group’s debt was Tk 892 crore. In 2017 it was Tk 712 crore. That is, the bank liability of this group has increased by about Tk 300 crore in the span of three years. They are not able to pay the bank loan regularly now. Pubali Bank’s loan to this group is Tk 600 crore, Mutual Trust has accumulated Tk 200 crore. Their debt to Mercantile Bank is Tk 70 crore.
The group’s subsidiary Seema Auto Re-Rolling Mill has a short-term bank loan of over Tk 300 crore. And there is a long term debt of about Tk 70 crore.
According to National Board of Revenue data, Seema Group’s three ship-breaking firms Seema Steel, Ace Trading Corporation and Mamun Steel imported 12 old ships worth Tk 600 crore in the 2015-16 financial year. But in the last financial year, transactions fell to one-third. But three years ago Seema Group had assets worth thousands of taka. All their institutions were operational. Many believe that all of the group’s institutions are now in bad shape due to managerial failures and unplanned investments.
Rokeya Begum, the wife of the deceased Abdul Quader, filed a case last Tuesday night mentioning the names of 16 people including managing director Mamun Uddin, his brother Parvez Uddin, Ashraf Uddin alias Bappi in the case of the death of seven people in Seema Oxygen explosion. He stated in the statement that the death was due to the negligence and carelessness of the factory authorities. Inspector (Investigation) of Sitakunda Police Station Abu Saeed said that according to the provisions of the case, the accused may be sentenced to life imprisonment or 10 years imprisonment and fine. That means if this case is proved, the danger of various banks lending to Seema Group will increase. So after the accident in the oxygen plant, the banks have increased the contact to get loan money. But the owner is not responding.
Seema Group owns two oxygen plant companies. Among them were three plants of Oxy Oxygen and two plants of the accident-prone Seema Oxygen Company. Three plants of Oxy Oxygen Company are closed. And two plants of Seema were destroyed in the explosion. Apart from this, Seema Auto Re-Rolling Mill is suffering due to debt. They don’t even have enough ships in their wrecking yards. It is also very close.
Mohammad Shafi, the founder of Seema Group, started his business with a tea shop in Banur Bazar in the eighties. In the early nineties, he started working as a contractor on scrap ships. In 1992-1993 built a shipbreaking yard at Jahanabad village in Madam Bibir Hat. After that, Seema formed the group. He also developed Seema Bus Service and Oxygen Plant. S. Trading Corporation, Mamun Steel and Maps Trading were successively established. Mohammad Shafi died of cancer three years ago. After that, his three sons Mamun Uddin, Parvez Uddin and Ashraf Uddin Bappi took charge of these businesses.
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