The government made tanners in Hazaribagh shift to Savar Tannery Estate hastily, being misguided by a group of people about preparedness of the leather hub, said the BSCIC chief.
As industry stakeholders aired fear of local people's outrage against pollution by untreated tannery waste from the ill-equipped estate, the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) Chairman, Mushtaq Hasan Muhuamad Iftikhar, came up with the accusation at a function Sunday.
The chief of the executing agency for the tannery hub on the western outskirts of the capital, Dhaka, also demanded punishment of those who are responsible for the situation.
The Savar Tannery Estate was not ready for operation when the tanners were made to relocate their factories over there last year, he said.
The BSCIC chairman wouldn't clarify who are the people responsible for relocation of the tanneries from the city to the suburb allegedly prematurely.
He was speaking at a seminar entitled 'Shifted tannery industry management and sustainable development'. Bangladesh Tanners Association (BTA) organised the seminar in the city.
Mr Mushtaq said they are working on the formation of a company for running the CETP (central effluent-treatment plant) and the estate after exit of Chinese construction company JLEPCL-DCL.
"We sent a proposal on a company to the ministry, we will begin official activities after getting approval," he told his audience from the leather industry.
The BSCIC chairman noted that tannery estate cannot recruit manpower as there is no option for new recruitment. The formation of a company is only solution for running the estate.
He disclosed that the government will build two new tannery estates in Rajshahi and Chittagong in view of potential growth in the sector in the regions.
He also said BSCIC sent detailed project proposal to the ministry for another 200-acre estate beside the existing one to accommodate backward- linkage sectors, smaller tanneries and other associated industries.
He said around 70 per cent machinery brought by JLEPCL-DCL for use in CETP has been found substandard and those will be returned.
He also said solid waste-based SPGS (Sludge Power Generation System) is not a sustainable option. There must be other ways for solid-waste management.
"We should think about other options for solid waste. Discussion for dumping solid waste into Amin Bazar landfill has not progressed much," he told the meet.
Speaking at the programme, BTA Chairman Shaheen Ahmed said many organisations are showing interest to use solid waste. There are many uses of tannery waste. If government allows them, the worry about solid waste will be gone.
He said the tanners ought to obtain certification and trust of foreign buyers for reaching $5 billion worth of leather-and leather-goods export by 2021.
He also said the tannery estate is still not fully functional for production. The CETP still releases polluted waters into the Dhaleswari River.
"The bad smell of solid waste is everywhere in the locality. River is getting polluted. If local people get angry, the things will really get out of hand," the industry leader said on a note of caution.
He said there is no school, hospital, accommodation for thousands of tannery workers. The government should ensure those basic needs for workers.
The Tannery Estate Project Director, Ziaul Haque, told the business meet that solid-waste management is a "great concern for us at this moment".
"Dhaka North City Corporation does not want to take tannery solid waste in their landfill; what we could do with solid waste now, we really don't know," he said.
He also said they had made many mistakes during development of estate for not having experience.
Professor of Civil Engineering at BUET Dr Delwar Hossain said tannery owners need training on proper management of liquid and solid waste.
He also asked estate authority to provide people to the Chinese company to get experience so that they can run the system after the contract is over.
Chairman of the Department at Development Studies at Dhaka University Dr Mohammad Abu Yusuf and leather expert Shikder Abu Naser, among others, also spoke at the programme.
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