The Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (Bscic) has planned to build three more leather industrial estates, aiming to create more than four lakh jobs in the next five years.
The move comes amid the authorities' failure to make fully functional the Tannery Industrial Estate built on the bank of the Dhaleshwari River in Savar near the capital.
The central effluent treatment plant (CETP) of the Savar tannery estate does not have the capacity to process all the liquid wastes produced there.
This untreated effluent coupled with solid wastes lying in the open are now polluting the Dhaleswari, and the environment as well.
Taking the issues into consideration, the parliamentary standing committee on the forests and climate change ministry has recently recommended shutting down the tannery estate for the sake of saving the environment from pollution.
Tanners allege that the failure has created trouble in the industry for the last few years.
Bscic – a prime government agency geared to promote the development and expansion of medium, small and cottage industries – build industrial estates across the country.
Since its journey began in 1957, the corporation has built 76 industrial estates in the country that have generated more than six lakh jobs, says a Bscic report.
Under the new plan, Bscic wants to establish a leather industrial park on 200 acres of land for processing rawhide and backward linkage beside the Tannery Industrial Estate in Savar.
The corporation will build a leather and engineering industrial park in Rajshahi – mainly for finished products, and a backward linkage unit, aiming to generate employment opportunities for 50,000 people.
Its plan also includes an industrial park In Chattogram for leather and light engineering industries on 500 acres of land at Mirsarai, targeting to create around 2.5 lakh jobs.
"The new plans aim to promote small, and medium entrepreneurs and create employment," Md Rashedur Rahman, deputy general manager (Planning) at Bscic, told The Business Standard.
"The new leather industrial parks will be environmentally friendly. ETPs will be there and they will be fully compliant with international standards," he said.
Bscic Leather and Engineering Industrial Park, Rajshahi
The corporation will set up a Leather and Engineering Industrial Park on 124.21 acres of land in Puthia near the Dhaka-Natore Highway.
According to the initial plan, Bscic will build the park only for making finished leather products. However, it will keep arrangements in case some people want to process rawhide there.
There are more than 50 warehouses in Natore for collecting and selling rawhide from different districts of North Bengal. And leather comes to different tanneries in Dhaka through traders in Natore.
The corporation took an initiative in 2020 to build a leather industrial city in Rajshahi. According to its officials, Bscic wrote to the Rajshahi district administration in January this year to select and approve 500 acres of land along the Rajshahi-Naogaon and Rajshahi-Natore highways.
The district administration has recently permitted Bscic to acquire 124 acres of land in Puthia, for which it is already making a Development Project Proposal (DPP).
Bscic expects to start the project in fiscal 2022-23 after getting approval from all the regulatory authorities. However, the cost has not been estimated yet.
Multisectoral Industrial Park at Mirsharai, Chattogram
The corporation is looking for 500 acres of land to build a multisectoral industrial park at Mirsharai with several industries.
Industries of finished leather products, leather backwards and forward linkages and automobile engineering will be built there.
"There is a good demand for land from entrepreneurs in the leather backward and forward linkage industries. In many places these industries are scattered in small ranges," Md Rashedur Rahman said.
"All of them will be allotted land in this industrial park. It will employ about 2.5 lakh people."
Bscic had earlier received an allotment of 322 acres of land in an economic zone in Mirsharai but the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (Beza) later cancelled the deal.
The move has forced the corporation to look for land afresh. In the middle of this year, it has again written to the district administration to procure land.
Bscic Leather Industrial Park, Dhaka
The corporation will build another leather industrial park on 200 acres of land next to the existing industrial city at Hemayetpur, Savar on the outskirts of the capital.
A DPP for the project was sent to the Planning Commission in February through the industries ministry and the cost has been estimated at Tk3,518.25 crore.
After conducting a feasibility test in March-April next year, Bscic wants a final approval from the government by June.
It will build a full-fledged leather industrial city in Savar by incorporating the issues that have been missing in the existing leather industrial park.
According to the project summary, the industries ministry has taken the initiative to set up the Bscic Leather Industrial Park with an aim to increase the contributions of the leather industry to the national economy.
Tanneries and backwards and forward linkage industries related to leather goods will be accommodated in the new industrial park. There will be shopping malls and a commercial complex in the new leather industrial park.
In addition, there will be a power generation plant, two electrical substations, a gas station, cold storage, a four-module CETP, a solid waste management system and a dumping yard, as per the plan of Bscic.
Also, the industrial park will have a daycare centre, clinic, club, conference room, banks and insurance companies, fire and police stations, playground and a water treatment plant.
The plan includes an allocation of 10% or 27 plots for promising women entrepreneurs to enhance women's empowerment.
Employment for around 1 lakh people will be created when the project is implemented.