‘Sealed factory running in full swing’
A fertiliser and pesticide factory, sealed off by authorities around a year ago, is still reportedly continuing its operation in Dhaka's Keraniganj area.
Locals in Keraniganj claim that law enforcers turn a blind-eye to the factory's illegal operation, as it is located on the premises of a rest house of a police deputy inspector general (DIG).
The issue has come to light after law enforcers seized nine trucks laden with fake fertiliser in Bogura.
The factory of Meghna Fertilizer Company Limited is located in Keraniganj's Alipur area. Its other factory is in Savar's Hemayetpur.
Law enforcers suspect that the seized fertiliser was either produced or packed in one of the two factories of the company.
"We are still not sure but are investigating," said Md Abdul Monnaf, inspector of Bogura Sadar Police Station.
The factory owner himself admitted that he set up the factory by renting land from the DIG, though the police official denied it.
In July last year, Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) conducted a two-day drive at the Keraniganj factory and seized huge amounts of fake fertiliser and pesticide, worth around Tk 150 crore.
DIG Mizanur Rahman said neither he nor any of his family members has connection with the factory. He claimed that his rest house and the factory are located on separate plots. The factory owner rented the plot from a private company. Saidur, however, claimed that he rented the land from the DIG and his wife.
Then, DAE authorities sealed off the factory and cancelled its licence.
Last week, this correspondent visited the area and talked to a dozen people living adjacent to the factory.
All of them said the factory's operation was halted for only a few days after the drive; it began again in full swing.
"The factory emits toxic smoke and stench. We are in serious trouble," said a woman, who lives nearby.
"Nobody dare file any complaint against the factory, because it is located on the premises of the DIG's rest house," she said, seeking anonymity.
"The factory is running, but I think the number of workers has been reduced," said another resident.
This correspondent found that the factory has three gates, and all of them were locked. When he tried to enter the establishment, security guards did not allow him in.
Peeking through the gaps of the gates, he saw some people walking inside the premises.
Contacted, factory owner Saidur Rahman Khan said the establishment has been closed since the DAE sealed it off, and the gates' keys are at the local police outpost.
He claimed that his factory has no connection with the seizure of fake fertiliser in Bogura.
Contacted, DIG Mizanur Rahman, who is now working as commandant of Range Reserve Force in Dhaka, said neither he nor any of his family members has connection with the factory.
He claimed that his rest house and the factory are located on separate plots. The factory owner rented the plot from a private company.
Saidur, however, claimed that he rented the land from the DIG and his wife.
Shohidul Amin, Keraniganj upazila agriculture officer, said they had handed over the factory's keys to the local police outpost. "As per our documents, the factory is still sealed off and its operation remains suspended."
Keraniganj Model Police Station Officer-in-Charge Mamun-ur Rashid Mamun suggested talking to Kalatia police outpost, where the keys are kept.
Contacted, the outpost's in-charge Sahidul Islam said he knew nothing about such keys.
Meanwhile, the Savar factory is also officially closed, but reportedly not in reality.
Contacted, Naziat Ahmed, Savar upazila agriculture officer, said they raided the Savar factory last year and ordered it be shut down, because it was producing substandard fertiliser.
"Moreover, we recommended our higher authorities to cancel the factory's licence," said the officer.
This correspondent also visited the factory in Savar. Locals there claimed that the factory is running, though Saidur claimed that it remains closed.
[Our Bogura correspondent contributed to the report]