The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Leather hub waste units ready

Things are finally moving at the Calcutta Leather Complex, with clear signs emerging on Friday that the Rs 350-crore complex is poised to take off, at least partially, this winter. Work on the complex had started way back in 1995.

T. Ramasami, director, Central Leather Research Institute, said on Friday that two modules of the common effluent treatment plant — the most important component for an integrated leather complex — will be “operational by December 2003”.

The leather institute chief added: “The two modules will be able to treat 10 million litres of waste water daily. Construction of the other two treatment plant modules have started and they will be ready by March 2005.”

The research body is monitoring the multi-crore tannery-relocation project of the West Bengal government, implemented in association with private partner M.L. Dalmiya.

“It’s true that 30 to 40 per cent of the 538 tanners are still not ready to shift. But once some of them start relocating, the rest will follow suit,” said Ramasami. To hasten the relocation to Bantala, on the eastern fringes of the city, and explain the importance of “modernisation in a global market set-up” he will meet some tannery-owners on Saturday.

But a section of tanners is not convinced. Javed Khan, tannery-owner and member of the Leather Manufacturers’ Association, pointed out a host of other deficiencies in the complex. “The complex still doesn’t have any fire-fighting arrangements, nor does it have any provision for labour quarters. Besides, security is a major concern, as 26 people have been murdered in the area over the past year and a half,” explained Khan.

The question of compensation to the tanneries which have abided by the Supreme Court order and shifted to Bantala, is also a cause for concern. “There are no facilities at the complex and we have had to sit idle for over a year. Who will compensate us for our losses'” demanded some tannery-owners.

Confusion clouds a few technical issues like the capacity and efficiency of the effluent treatment plants and the chrome recovery units. “If all the units relocate and operate with their increased production plan, the effluent treatment plants will not be able to take the load,” observed some tannery unions.

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