Production at BSRM has been severely hampered as local people at Mirsharai of Chattogram are not allowing transports with raw materials to enter its factories, blaming the country's leading iron rod manufacturer for the depletion of underground water in the area.
Production at one of the two billet production plants, which has a capacity of 3,000 tonnes, has stopped since Wednesday morning due to the raw material crisis. Another 1,500-tonne capacity plant is also at risk of halting production.
On 30 May, locals held protests alleging that the groundwater level was falling due to water being pumped into factories from deep tube wells.
BSRM's factories in Sonapahar require about 5,000 tonnes of scrap raw material per day to produce billets which are used to manufacture rods.
This is disrupting rod production at BSRM factories.
As a result, supply of rods to different ongoing mega projects like the Padma Bridge, Padma Rail Link, the Karnaphuli Tunnel and the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant may be disrupted.
The company said if this continues, rod production at other factories outside Mirsharai will be completely stopped in the next two or three days.
The country produces 70 lakh tonnes of rods annually. Of which, BSRM supplies more than 18 lakh tonnes. In addition to the government's mega projects, BSRM supplies 5,000-5,500 tonnes of iron rods to the country's markets every day.
Tapan Sengupta, deputy managing director of BSRM, said three ships were waiting to be unloaded at Chattogram port as the company could not take raw materials to the factory.
"If this situation is not resolved soon, there will be a catastrophe in rod production and supply. The company is facing huge financial losses," he added.
Meanwhile, as the scrap raw material could not be unloaded from the ships arriving at the port, the company has to pay $10,000-12,000 each ship per day.
Reasons behind the movement:
As the groundwater level in eight unions of Mirsharai went down, locals allegedly could not get water from their tube wells.
Locals complained that the crisis was caused by BSRM's pumping water from tube wells in their factory.
From a human chain organised by Baraiyarhat Municipality Mayor Rezaul Karim Khokon at the BSRM factory gate on 30 May, MP engineer Mosharraf said the company should make arrangements to bring water to its factories through a pipeline from the Feni River within two months.
"The factory will be closed for two months. No scrap will enter the factories during this period," he added.
The lawmaker asked the rod manufacturer to shift its factories to Mirsharai Economic Zone within the next one year. Basically, these announcements have stopped the entry of scrap products to BSRM factories.
SM Nazer Hossain, vice-president of the Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB), said the movement was intentional, adding, "This crisis was not created only because of BSRM. Other industrial establishments also extracted water using deep tube wells in the area. There should not have been such a movement against a company."
"We have created employment for people by setting up factories at a cost of thousands of crores of taka. We also have a plan to make our factories last for a hundred years. So we don't extract groundwater ourselves," said Tapan Sengupta.
"We have a three-acre rainwater harvesting plant. Besides, if we need water, we bring it from the Feni River by barges. We recycle water in our factories. As a result, we do not need more water. We are not the only ones responsible for the groundwater table going down. We are being unreasonably blamed."