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Legal issues, red tape hold back CETP job at Savar

Shakhawat Hossain

The construction of the central effluent treatment plant in the new tannery estate at Savar could not begin because of bureaucratic exercise and legal complexities although an international contractor was selected more than two years ago, officials said.
They said that Chinese firm Jiangsu Lingzhi Environmental Protection Company Limited and local firm Development Construction Limited were given the job of the plant construction on December 5, 2011.
But the settlement of an allegation by unsuccessful bidder Vatech Wabagh Ltd in court and bureaucratic procedures for fund allocation have stopped the progress in the treatment plant construction job for the past two years.
The officials said that they needed at least 18 months from the day the construction would begin one to complete the central effluent treatment plant, without which the relocation of 205 tanneries would not be meaningful.
The Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation that is
implementing the tannery relocation project aimed at saving the River Buriganga from wastes of Hazaribagh tanneries is still examining the preparatory work for the treatment plant.
The BSCIC chairman, Shyam Sunder Sikder, told New Age on Thursday that they wished they could begin the construction work tomorrow.
‘But we have to adhere to all rules and regulations to go ahead with the project,’ he said adding that their priority was to ensure the quality of the work.
He said that the planning ministry had not approved the fund for the project in the revised annual development programme of the past financial year because of time constraint.
The ministry, however, allocated fund in the ADP of the current financial year that began in July 2013.
Sikder said that they were not certain when they could begin the contraction work of the plant.
DCL project engineer Chaitanya Kumar Mondal said that it was frustrating that they could not begin the job in the past two years because of problems on the government side.
He said that they were counting additional bank interest on the performance guarantee that they provided for the project.
He said that BSCIC had kept them waiting despite repeated requests for beginning the work made in a couple of months.
BSCIC officials said that they had made a good progress in other components of the project such as land development and the signing of deals with the tanners on the compensation package.
The Bangladesh Environment Lawyers’ Association chief executive, Syeda Rizwana Hasan, said that her organisation was not at all happy about the delay in the treatment plant construction.
She said that the ecology of the Buriganga and its surroundings had degraded a lot because of the delay in tannery relocation.
The project began in 2003 aimed at stopping the pollution of the Buriganga into which 3,000 tonnes of untreated solid wastes and 2.5 lakh tonnes of liquid wastes flow every month from 150 tanneries at Hazaribagh.
The government has already extended the project deadline three times in the past one decade. The cost of the project went up to a whopping Tk 1078 crore from an initial Tk 175 crore. The latest deadline expires in June 2016.
The Bangladesh Tanners’ Association chairman, Shahin Ahmed, said that many blamed leather businessmen for the delay in relocation of tanneries.
‘But we are always ready to relocate the establishments into the new estate,’ he said, alleging that the government agencies were very slow in making progress in the relocation project.

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