Govt fails to set up tannery industrial park in 17 yrs Leather export shrinks


Al Amin :
The export earnings from the leather and leather goods, the country's second largest export commodity, continue to fall as the government has failed to set up a Leather Industrial Park even after 17 years
Export earnings from leather and leather goods in July-August this year declined by 16.54 percent to $154.74 million from $185.41 million last year.
Leather footwear exports saw a fall of 11.89 percent to $105 million while other leather products fetched $34 million with a 22.94 percent negative growth during the period.
Experts said there is no alternative to take the leather industry city to world class with the active cooperation of Leather Working Group to increase export earnings of this sector.
Initiated in 2003, the 200-acre park in Savar is yet to complete the Central Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) while the work of its dumping yard has not yet begun. The authorities have also failed to hand over the deeds of the land pieces to a single tanner till now.
At least eight deadlines have been completed and the fresh deadline for launching central waste management in the project is going to end in December this year. But the stakeholders are skeptical about finishing the task on time considering the pace of the works.
Bangladesh Tannery Association's (BTA) General Secretary Md Shakhawat Ullah, however, told The New Nation, "The government has recently started to give its full afford to complete the development works of the industrial park and hopefully it will be finished soon."
Md Moshtaq Hasan, Chairman of the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation's (BSCIC), said that many along with the BSCIC showed their negligence as land requisition took a long time despite the project's inception in 2003. The waste treatment plant will be launched in full-fledged in December next, the BSCIC chairman said adding that the deed of the land will be handed over once the prices of the land pieces are paid.
Recognised foreign brands do not purchase goods made of Bangladeshi leather, as the country's industrial park is not environment-friendly. So, local footwear manufacturers like Apex import leather and make goods with them.
"If the leather industry had been environment-friendly, we could have exported domestic rawhides to Europe and America. We could even use leather in our factories. But, we can't," said Abdul Momen Bhuiyan, Deputy Managing Director of Apex Footwear.
Just four years ago, local factories used to export leather goods to European markets. But, an International Non-government Organization (INGO), wrote a letter to the buyers alleging environmental pollution and it brought an end to the use of domestic leather, Momen added.
But, he thinks, if the industrial park has been prepared, leather goods might have been exported directly from Bangladesh to the European and American markets.
The government launched the project to build a Leather Industrial Park in Savar for an estimated cost of Tk 1.76 billion. Later, the cost was lifted to 10.79 billion. The work order for waste treatment plant was issued on March 11, 2012.
Following a High Court order, the tanneries were shifted from the Dhaka's Hazaribagh to Savar. A total of 158 tanneries got land. Of them, 124 tanneries have already started their operations.