Hide traders facing uncertainty
No clearance for CETP
Golam Mostafa Jibon: As the Eid-ul-Azha, one of the largest festivals of Muslim is going to be celebrated on July 10, entrepreneurs of leather industry in Savar are apprehending to face complications over the collecting and processing of raw hides and skins after sacrificing the animals during the Eid.
There is dissatisfaction with the solid and liquid waste management of the much-discussed and long-implemented Savar Tannery Industrial Park. Meanwhile, tannery waste has also main caused of environmental and river pollution. For this reason, the Department of Environment is not giving new clearances to these institutions. Even those, who got clearance, their expired clearances are not being renewed. Many tannery industries may be shut down due to the strict position of the Department of Environment. The tannery owners said that, the Department of Environment is not giving new clearances due to the order of the high court. Even those who had earlier obtained clearance, their expired clearances have been blocked in the renewal process. If the tannery does not get environmental clearance or renewal in the next one or two days, there will be a big crisis. At the same time, as the lease of the tannery land has not been finalized, the entrepreneurs are talking about the collection and processing of the skins of the sacrificial animals this Eid.
According to the officials of the Department of Environment, to save the Buriganga river, the tanneries built in Hazaribagh of the capital will be shifted to the banks of Dhaleshwari river and a planned leather industrial city will be built. The water of Dhaleshwari river is being polluted due to dumping of untreated liquid waste in the river, due to which the Central Waste Treatment Plant (CETP) of Tannery Industrial Park has not yet got clearance from the Department of Environment. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has also recommended the closure of the industrial park due to environmental pollution. Meanwhile, according to the directive of the High Court the tanneries of Hazaribagh were shifted to Savar Leather Industrial City in 2017. Despite the reluctance of the owners, the government allowed them to set up factories without a land lease agreement. As the project was ongoing, the owners did not conclude the lease agreement due to the complexity of fixing the land price to increase the cost of the project.
According to project sources, the cost has also increased with the extension of the Savar Tannery project. The price per square foot of land increased from Tk 499 to Tk 1,600. However, due to the forced relocation, the government gave a 80 per cent discount on the land price at the request of the entrepreneurs.
Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) announced the completion of the project on June 30 last year. BSCIC provides an opportunity to conclude a land lease agreement by paying a one-time price at the end of the project period. However, in the Corona situation, only 10-15 out of 250 companies have paid the price and concluded the lease agreement. The rest have not paid yet. The lease deed is to be completed only after paying the fee in ten installments for a period of five years. On the other hand, the latest DOE report found that waste disposal at the Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) exceeds the recognized parameters. Although BSCIC claims that the CETP can hold 25,000 cubic meters per day, experts say its actual capacity is 14,000 cubic meters.
According to Professor Mohammad Mizanur Rahman, director of the Institute of Leather Engineering and Technology, Dhaka University, the CETP was not set up with modern technology. Also, the plant has no chromium recovery unit and no separate facilities for solid waste management.
But Tanners say the quality of the water discharged from the CETP is slowly improving.
Sakhawat Ullah, general secretary of the Bangladesh Tanners Association (BTA) said, “It was important to execute the land lease deed. Although, the plot was allotted and the factory was set up, the agreement has not been finalized yet. Due to which the entrepreneurs are not able to take any loan against this land.”
He added that, a company has been operating CEPT since last July and the situation has improved a lot. It will improve further in the next two months.
Shahin Ahmed, president of Bangladesh Tanners Association said, “I am not getting environmental clearance, nor is there any lease deed. Tannery owners are in trouble with this. It is not possible to take a loan from a bank as there is no lease agreement. Tannery owners will need large sums of money during Eid al-Azha. If there was a lease agreement, a loan could be obtained from the bank, the matter needs to be addressed.”
Regarding non-receipt of environmental clearance, he said that is not environmental clearance for tanneries is not available as the central waste treatment plant is not fully prepared.
On the other hand, Sakhawat Ullah, managing director of Salma Tannery and general secretary of the Bangladesh Tanners Association (BTA) said, entrepreneurs can shut down their businesses due to lack of the clearance certificate. The bond license is also not going to be renewed. Eid is approaching fast, but things are not being addressed. Failure to bring in chemicals will hamper skin processing. If the clearance is not given, many tanneries will have to be closed. Again, the entrepreneurs are not able to take loan from the bank against the land as the lease deed of the tannery has not been completed.
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