An acute gas crisis has continued to severely impact production in textile and garment factories not only in Narayanganj and Narsingdi but also in the country's largest industrial belt of Gazipur and Maona.
Factory owners in the latter two said they have been losing production and incurring financial losses for over six months.
Yesterday the gas pressure was so low in some places that production had been put on hold. In places where the pressure was a little bit high, factories could not run in full swing.
Nearly 500 textile, spinning, dyeing, finishing and weaving mills have been impacted in the industrial belts of Narayanganj, Narsingdi, Madhabdi, Maona, Bhabanipur and Kanchpur.
However the plight of just around 100 came to the fore, primarily because they were members of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) and were the bigger gas consumers.
All of these units are subscribers of the state-owned Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company. The gas supply is critical for production since the industrial and commercial energy users convert it to generate captive power for their own energy consumption.
"I could not run my factory since Tuesday night as the gas pressure varies between 1 to 1.5 pounds per square inch (PSI) rather than the required 15 PSI," said Fazlul Hoque, managing director of Ishraq Spinning Mill.
"Despite having the low pressure I managed to produce 60 tonnes to 70 tonnes every day over the last few months," said the owner of the Maona-based factory in Gazipur.
"But from Tuesday night my mill has remained almost idle as the pressure is too low now," said Hoque, adding that he was capable of producing 125 tonnes of yarn a day had the supply of gas been normal.
"My buyers are putting pressure on me for delivering the yarn on time as they will also have to make timely shipment of goods. Otherwise they will face work order cancellations and expensive air shipments," he said.
Similarly, Mosharaf Hossain, chairman and managing director of Mosharaf Group, has been making do with producing 50 tonnes to 60 tonnes of yarn a day instead of the usual 130 tonnes under normal gas pressure.
The group has composite facilities at Bhabanipur in Gazipur comprising spinning, dyeing and garment production units.
"So everyday I have been losing money and my buyers are putting pressure on me for quick delivery of goods," Hossain told The Daily Star.
He said his Tk 1,600 crore investment in his composite mill and 10,000 workers would fall in jeopardy if the factories could not be run in full swing.
The views of Hoque and Hossain were echoed by Azahar Khan, chairman of Mithela Textile Industries based at Araihazar in Narayanganj, and Saleudh Zaman, managing director of NZ Textiles, a spinning mill at Bhulta in Narayanganj.
They have also been facing an acute gas crisis in their production units since March 13.
Azahar Khan said he was capable of exporting $10 million worth of goods from his mills and factories every month. However, the export figure was feared to be very low this month because of reduced production for low gas pressure.
"I also run my mills with rice husk as it is a green factory and I can save 68 per cent of energy. But since it is not the season of rice husking, the old stock of husk has been used up over the past one month," he said.
"So I am in very big trouble now," he added.
"This is gross negligence of the Titas," said Mohammad Ali Khokon, president of the BTMA, the platform for primary textile millers.
"This state-owned company has not been addressing concerns despite repeated assurances over smooth supply of gas to the production units in those industrial belts," he said.
"Even today (Wednesday) the BTMA sent a letter to the Titas demanding fixing the gas problem as soon as possible. But action is yet to be taken by the Titas," Khokon told The Daily Star over the phone.
Every day over the last few months the members of the BTMA have been posting complaints with the association as they are facing losses due to the gas crisis which has severely affected productivity, Khokon said.
"I hope the problem will be solved soon. I hope for the best," said Ali Iqbal Mohammad Nurullah, managing director of the Titas, over the phone without elaborating.