The process of relocating tannery factories from the city’s Hazaribagh area to Savar’s Hemayetpur is likely to be complete by December next year.
Industries Minister Dilip Barua told the BSS that the government would consider ensuring all facilities for the factory owners, “if the tannery industry is relocated by December 2014 in line with a tripartite agreement struck recently.”
He said the government was giving importance to green industrialisation. “So, it has undertaken the Tk10.8bn project to develop an environment-friendly tannery zone and stop pollution of the Buriganga river,” he said.
Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (Bscic) Project Director Anisul Haq Bhuiyan said the 205 plots had already been distributed among 155 tanners who were operating in Hazaribagh.
The move to relocate tanneries from the capital to Savar has remained suspended for a decade, due to disagreements between the authorities and tannery owners over who should bear the cost of the move.
A recent report published by Zurich-based Green Cross Switzerland and New York-based Blacksmith Institute ranked Hazaribagh as the fifth most polluted place on earth, exposing at least 160,000 people to pollution due to the presence of toxic chemicals, mainly chromium.
On October 13, the MoU was inked between Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC), Bangladesh Tanners’ Association (BTA) and Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leather-goods and Footwear Exporters Association (BFLLFEA) signed the MoU.
As per the agreement, the government will offer a compensation package worth Tk2.5bn to 155 factories and assign Tk6.39bn for the installation of the central water treatment plant (CETP) – a must for red-category factories discharging toxic chemicals.
Establishment of infrastructures at the 200-acre tannery estate on the bank of river Dhaleshwari at Harindhara village of Tetuljhora in Savar is nearly complete. The plots have been prepared while construction of roads, Bscic Bhaban, police outpost, CETP and a power plant are underway.
Khandaker Shaukat Ali Khan, who is working at the CETP, said construction of the plant was complete. “It is now waiting for power connection.” The plant will supply about 900,000 litres of water in the tannery zone per hour.
The plant will treat 2.5m tonnes of industrial refuse daily. It is being built by a Chinese company.
M Abu Taher, chairman of BFLLFEA, said they would try to relocate the tanneries by December next year.
BTA President Shahin Ahmed said as per the agreement with the government, the issue of releasing compensation money for the factory owners was related to the relocation process.
After a public interest litigation was lodged, the High Court in June 2009 asked the government to relocate the tanneries from Dhaka to a proposed leather estate at Harindhara, Savar by February 28, 2010 or face shutdowns. The government has repeatedly sought more time.