Tanners on Thursday demanded that they be allowed to reopen their tanneries in the city's Hazaribagh area if the utility services cannot be provided to their factories at Savar Tannery Estate within the 15-day timeline given by the High Court, reports UNB.
"Electricity, gas and water connections to our Hazaribagh factories should be restored if the BSCIC (Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation) fail to provide the utility connections at Savar within the 15 working days as per the High Court's order," said chairman of Bangladesh Tanners' Association Shaheen Ahamed at a views-exchange programme in the city's Dhanmondhi area.
Chamra Shilpa Rakkha Oikya Parishad, a newly-formed platform to protect the leather industry, arranged the programme in cooperation with Leather Chemical Businessman Cooperatives Ltd and Bangladesh Chemical Importers and Merchants Association.
Shaheen Ahmed, also co-chairman of Chamra Shilpa Rakkha Oikya Parishad said a quarter has become active to destroy the leather industry for implementing their special agenda. "Today, we're the victims of a conspiracy," he said.
He said the announcement of stopping rawhide supply to Hazarbagh came just before the Hong Kong Leather Fair 2016 resulting in the loss of purchase orders worth Tk 5,000-Tk 6,000 crore.
The utility services to Hazaribagh tanneries were snapped at a time when the Hong Kong Fair 2017 started."We've lost our market and purchase orders in the process," he said.
The BTA chairman said the BSCIC is fully responsible for the damage to the leather sector as it failed to make the Savar Tannery Estate ready.
He alleged that the drainage system at Savar is not environment-friendly one, while the construction of Central Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) and Dumping Yard are yet to be completed.
"We're moving to Savar from Hazaribagh to stop polluting the environment. But, the question is whether the Tannery Estate has been made an environment-friendly one at all," Shaheen said.
He said they would no longer compromise with BSCIC, and take to streets to wage a movement next month and move the court to challenge BSCIC, he added.
President of Leather Chemical Businessman Cooperatives Ltd Morshed Haider claimed that CETP has not been constructed properly at Savar as it fails to fully neutralise tannery chemicals.
President of Bangladesh Chemical Importers and Merchants Association Mizanur Rahman Misbah demanded allocation of plots for leather chemical businessmen at Savar saying that setting up of chemical labs in a scattered manner will pollute the environment.
Senior vice-president of Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leather Goods and Footwear Exporters Association Diljahan Bhuiyan alleged that tannery effluents will now pollute the Dhaleshwari River as the Savar Estate's CETP of cannot treat chemical properly.
"The tannery sector has already suffered a loss of Tk 2,000 crore due to the relocation process," he claimed.
BFLLFEA vice-president Abdul Awal Nannu said the recent shutdown of Hazaribagh tanneries would have a severe adverse impact on shoe business at the domestic market.
The tanners said BSCIC had assured them of acquiring more than 200 acres of land there, but the process is very slow.
In compliance with a High Court order, the Department of Environment (DoE) on April 8 last disconnected utility services to 224 tanneries at Hazaribagh as they missed several deadlines to relocate their factories to the Savar Tannery Estate.