Noncompletion of Savar Tannery CETP in 9 years puts industry into trouble26 July 2021 Editorial Desk
Despite nine years of work and expenditure of nearly Tk 5 billion, the construction of the Central Effluent Treatment Plant in the Savar Tannery Industrial Estate (STIE) has not been completed. A Bangladesh and China joint venture company was awarded the construction work of the CETP through a bidding process in 2012 and the deadline for its completion was 2017. The deadline was extended several times. The delay has caused environmental pollution, damage to the nearby Dhaleshwari River and pushed the country's several-billion-dollar leather sector into trouble. Noncompletion of the CETP has caused delays in obtaining the Leather Working Group (LWG) certification, which is required for better export prices of tanned leather.
From July 1, a newly formed government-owned local company, Dhaka Tannery Industrial Estate Wastage Treatment Plant Company Ltd, has taken charge of the CETP. The decision to terminate the contract with the joint venture company was taken based on recommendations of two technical committees formed in April to gauge the progress and impacts of the CETP. Although the CETP has been running for some time now, the online monitoring system has not been installed as per the agreement and its laboratory has inadequate testing facilities. Only four out of eight kinds of testing facilities have been installed in the laboratory and a mini workshop has not been constructed at the CETP site.
The government may now takeanother project for Balancing, Modernisation, Rehabilitation and Expansion (BMRE) to make it fully operational. The current low capacity of the CETP reservoir -- 25,000 cubic metres per day -- is not able to handle the flow of water during the peak season at Eid-ul-Azha, when 50 percent of the country's annual rawhide is generated. Currently, Bangladeshi exporters ship leather at 40 percent below international prices as they cannot do business with compliant companies in the absence of LWG certification. The government is too patient to let the leather industry go down. We think we missed several opportunities to boost the leather sector and no single opportunity should miss from now on.