The purpose of relocating the tanneries to Savar was to save the rivers around Dhaka from eventual death. The relocation has been on the cards for thirteen years now. And we see a game being played by the authorities on one side and the tannery owners on the other for so many years. And all this time these rivers have continued to decay.
The situation has turned into a farce. Repeated deadlines of the government have been flouted making a mockery of the matter. We witnessed the latest drama when an ultimatum was given early this month to move the tanneries to Savar in 72 hours and BSCIC authorities issued a legal notice on January 9 to tannery owners threatening them with closure if they failed to relocate by the stipulated time. Nothing happened except that the time was extended to 1 March 2016.
The ground reality is that relocation could not happen because the new facilities at Savar are not ready, as was exposed by our report on January 30. It is obvious that only 25 to 30 factory owners may be able to complete preparatory work for factories to be relocated over the next two months and the total number of factories in question is around 150. In the meanwhile, the rivers will continue to be polluted and it is difficult to estimate the cost of restoring those to their pristine form.
We would like an end to this charade. We want a comprehensive and a non-negotiable timeframe for the relocation of these factories. That can only happen if the government is serious about the issue in the first place. The question is – will it be?