February 14, 2020
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When It's Hell For Leather

When It's Hell For Leather
The Bantala leather complex in South 24 Parganas has turned out to be the mother of all follies. The complex was set up so that tanneries in the Topsia, Tangra and Tiljala areas of east Calcutta could be relocated. The Supreme Court had ordered the tanneries to stop production by November 22 and relocate to the new complex. It also asked for compliance affidavits from the tanneries within a fortnight of this order.

But that is easier said than done. The ground reality is that though 323 units had secured land some time ago, only 130 units have begun construction. There has been virtually no preliminary construction work in over 200 plots to enable existing tanneries to move in. So, who is to blame for this mess?

The firm entrusted with the job of setting up the 1,100-acre complex is M.L. Dalmiya and Co, owned by BCCI chairman Jagmohan Dalmiya. The company, which had signed an agreement with the state government way back in 1995, has carried out little infrastructural work. As of now, only four water tanks, a pumping station, a power substation and an effluent treatment plant are under construction. This falls short of the actual requirement. Naturally, functioning units have refused to shift until a rudimentary infrastructure is in place.

Caught in a bind, the state government does not know what it should do. Minister for minor irrigation Nandagopal Bhattacharya has strongly attacked the construction company. But minister for small industries Bansa Gopal Choudhury, while criticising the promoters, also blames the tanneries for not shifting in time. The blame game goes on.

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