Tannery owners trying to move their business to Savar from Dhaka’s Hazaribagh are facing a nightmare.
Authorities disconnected the gas, water and electricity supply to Hazaribagh’s tanneries starting Saturday, leaving the factories with no choice but to relocate.
It has been 16 years since the High Court was first moved to have the high-pollution industry transferred out of Dhaka. The government allocated the land for Savar Leather Industrial Park in 2003. However, development of the park has been mired in the usual red tape.
There is still no utility connection at the park, meaning the handful of owners who have been able to bring machinery here are unable to start production.
The park authority has not yet been able to complete the paperwork for many of the tanneries, creating an impossible situation for the businesses.
“I cannot bring my machinery over because they are mortgaged to a bank, and they will not allow me to move them without submitting papers for the new plot,” said Belal Hossain, owner of Ayub Brothers Tannery.
“On the other hand, what is the use of moving here if there is no gas, electricity or water,” he added.
At Savar Leather Industrial Park on Sunday, many tannery managers were found busy with transferring factories. Some were seen arguing with contractors hired to build the factories and structures for the businesses.
Rezaul Karim, owner of ABS Tannery Limited, said he had transferred his machinery here and was doing some work but could not complete his production as there is no gas connection.
Many other owners said they were concerned about meeting order deadlines.
Asked when utility connections would be provided, Deputy Secretary (Project Director) of the park Md Ziaul Haque would only say that the process of providing gas connections to the factories was ongoing.
“We are trying to provide the connections within a very short time,” he said.
The Industries Ministry allocated plots to 155 tannery owners through the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) in the park, established on 200 acres of land. As of Last week, about 50 tannery owners had started production there.
Another 101 tanneries needed new gas connections.
The park itself is at a significant distance from residential areas and major roads.
There are about 30,000 people working in the tanneries in Hazaribagh, who are staunchly opposed to the transfer.
The government and the owners had agreed to build a residential area for the workers along with schools and hospitals, but there is no sign of such infrastructure at the park.
Tannery owners are blaming BSCIC for this crisis, saying the government agency had lied to the court claiming Savar was ready for the transfer.