Eid-ul-Azha approaching fast
Golam Mostafa Jibon:Though, around four years and three months have already been exceeded after the relocation of tanneries from the City’s Hazaribagh to Savar, many important works of the project like Central Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) and solid waste management have not yet been completed or handed over that hampering production and export immensely.
Such situation is growing grave concern among the tannery owners in Savar ahead of Eid-ul-Azha, also the second largest festival of Muslims as around 50 percent of the total rawhides collected throughout the year come during the Eid period. But, incomplete of the project works has now become main hindrance for going to full-fledged of production and export.
Sources said, leather exports are being disrupted due to incomplete of the project works at Savar tannery industry. Some 222 tanneries were shifted from Hazaribagh to Savar by the order of the High Court on April 8 in 2017. Earlier this, the government had repeatedly asked the tannery owners to relocate the industry to Savar, but many did not comply with the directives on the plea of incomplete project works.
The traders complained that, they are not getting the certificate of the Leather Working Group (LWG), also the global platform of leather industry. This is hampering export trade. Due to lack of the certificate, traders are not able to sell leather and products to reputed brands of different countries in the world including Japan and Europe.
Insiders said, a large number of animals are slaughtered in the country every year including in the Eid-ul-Azha, but tannery owners’ demand is low to buy rawhides due to poor export facilities. In addition, some extra skins are deposited to the traders during the Eid. The price of raw hides also goes down as the amount of rawhides come from the sacrificial animals is higher than the demand. Finally, the sellers are forced to sell the leather at a lower price.
Leaders of Bangladesh Tanners Association (BTA) also blamed BSCIC for all of those.
While contacted, Mohammad Sakhawat Ullah, general secretary of BTA said, “Our industries were brought to Savar in 2017 on the basis of false information that the CETP has been set up in the new place. But, CETP was not installed completely. Therefore, no tannery can go into production in time. Consequently, the leather industry has been suffering a setback in the last four years. Inefficiency and short-sightedness of BSCIC is responsible for suffering of tannery industry in Savar. Despite such unfavorable conditions, we have so far invested around Tk 6,000 crore in setting up industries including various machineries at the new place.”
“I am also trying my best to turn around amid the corona pandemic,” he also added.
A Chinese company has been working to set up CETP since 2012. The CETP was supposed to be set up just within 18 months. The company handed it over to BSCIC last month after long nine years. But, BSCIC has not yet handed over the responsibility to the body formed for CETP management.
Sakhawat Ullah further said, “After handing over, it will be understood whether there is any problem or not? Because, it has to be 100 percent error free to get LWG certificate. Besides, nothing has been done yet for solid waste management. It depends on these two things to get our LWG certificate.”
According to traders, many companies had LWG certificates, while in Hazaribagh. They too are now lagging behind in exports as the certificate has become invalid due to relocation to Savar. The traders complained that much of the purposes for which they were forcibly brought to Savar from Hazaribagh have not been implemented yet. Seeking anonymity, a tannery owner said, “We are still far from achieving the goal what we expect from Hemayetpur in Savar. I don’t know when the goal will be achieved. We cannot sell leather or leather products directly to brand companies abroad.”
Mohammad Monir Hossain, owner of Arafat Leather Complex said, “The government has made various pledges to bring us here so far. Now we have come, but no effective action has been taken by the government. There is no shortage of cooperation from traders’ side.”
Meanwhile, dumping of tannery waste in open space is seriously polluting the environment in Savar like Hazaribagh. In one study, the Department of the Environment found the presence of excess chromium and other chemicals surrounding the rivers.
Tannery waste is now merging with rainwater and entering into various houses. In addition, even in the dry season, bad smell spreads largely. Besides, the waste fell into nearby the Dhaleshwari river. As a result, the residents living along the river bank complained that the fishes of the water-body are dying every day.
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