Leather complex remains empty

6 February 2002

Despite clear directions from the Supreme Court, not a single tannery has shifted from the city and outskirts to the Bantala leather complex. The 1,100 acre complex allotted to tannery owners remains practically empty despite the Supreme Court setting a February 2002 deadline for relocating highly-polluting tanneries from Calcutta and its fringes. The tanneries say the infrastructure is far from adequate and the common effluent treatment plant, which was meant to contain pollution, has also not come up. Affected tannery owners have petitioned the Supreme Court to extend the deadline. With the Bantala leather complex being far from complete, several of them are planning a move to Maharashtra. The Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation is said to be offering attractive terms, says Jamil Ahmed, president of the Calcutta Leather Manufacturers Association. He says that whereas the Bantala project is offering land at Rs600 per sq m for relocation of existing units, MIDC has offered land at Rs350 per sq m. The price might be reduced to Rs300 if several tanners decide to move, Ahmed adds. The Bantala project, which some experts feel may take two more years to complete, doesn't have such a plant and tanneries would have to pay approximately an extra Rs375 per sq m for this essential facility. Besides, Bantala tanners fear they may be asked to pay another Rs200 per sq m for the laying of a pipeline to drain out the effluent, according to Ahmed. MIDC, however, is willing to hand over the effluent treatment plant to the tanneries if they relocate. The plots in the complex vary from 500 to 4,000 sq m. The complex offers facilities such as helipad, hospital, school, and fire station. It also has slaughter and rendering plants. S S Kumar of the regional Council for Leather Exports, says: 'Unless work at Bantala is completed speedily, tanneries relocating cannot be ruled out.' Source: Times of India/The Statesman (India)

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