Multan resistance to move

15 October 2001

Multan tannery owners are said to be reluctant to move to the industrial estate due to a lack of loan facilities to assist small industries. The Multan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) is anxious to move the unchecked tanneries from Nawabpur Road, Multan, Punjab Province. The Netherlands have offered to provide finance towards the installation of an Industrial Cluster Treatment Plant (ICTP) in Multan once the tanneries are relocated. They have already helped to establish ICTPs in Karachi and Kasur, while more are planned for Multan, Sialkot, Lahore and Sahiwal. The Netherlands have offered one third of the total cost of the budget and asked the government to provide one third while the remainder is to be contributed by the tanneries. The federal government has promised provision of funds from the Export Development Funds (EDF) in this connection but the project has gone into limbo due to the lack of loan opportunities to cover relocation costs. Earlier, ex Punjab chief minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif approved Rs1.5 to 2 million (US$23.5 to $31.4 million) to each owner for shifting their units but that was revoked after the change of government. About Rs1.5 billion will be spent on the ICTP installation in Multan. Meanwhile the unchecked discharge from more than 38 tanneries is said to be spreading different types of chronic diseases among the 50,000 residents of Nawabpur Road and its adjoining colonies. Presently only two tanneries have their own treatment plants while all the tanneries are discharging their chemicals, polluting the ground water to a depth of 70ft, rendering water unsuitable for human consumption. The decomposition of waste, flesh removed from hides and skins, removed hair and decaying organic matter create an unbearable smell for the residents.

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