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CM frown on tardy tanneries

Promoters of the Calcutta Leather Complex got a hiding from the chief minister on Friday for things 'moving too slowly'.

Addressing the annual general meeting of the Council of Leather Exports, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said: 'I am not happy with the progress of the leather complex. It is moving too slowly.'

Upset with the delay in commissioning the Bantala complex, the chief minister even spoke of a shift of power from builder-operator ML Dalmiya & Co.

'I think the management control (of the complex) should go to the industry,' asserted Bhattacharjee.

This comes at a time when industry and commerce minister Nirupam Sen is pushing for the formation of a registered company by a few thousand tanners relocating to the leather complex, that could take over the common effluent treatment plant.

Before leaving for Italy last week, Sen had told Metro that tannery-owners have been asked to form a registered company by October 10 and assume responsibility of running the plant, in which the government has invested nearly Rs 150 crore.

The latest development, however, does not alter the basic agreement between the government and ML Dalmiya & Co. that has promoted the 1,100-acre complex on a build-operate-transfer basis. The company is to manage the complex for the next 30 years and recoup the cost.

'The new company's role will be limited to the effluent treatment plant,' clarified Baishali Sengupta, a director of ML Dalmiya & Co. 'We will continue to be responsible for maintenance of the rest of the complex, including infrastructure like roads, drainage, water and electricity.'

Though the complex is ready for operation from 2003, a group of about 50 tannery-owners has alleged that infrastructural problems have tripped production plans. 'We have been urging the government to provide water and effluent treatment plant connections' We are losing out on the festive season because of the delay,' complained I. Najam, secretary, Bantala Tannery Association.

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