Feb 05, 2009

Chittagong Hill Tracts: Job Industry Closed

Sample ImageThe only industry in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Rangamati Textile Mill remains closed, resulting in job losses and hardship for hundreds.
Below is an article published by the Daily Star:

Rangamati Textile Mill (RTM), the lone industry in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), is closed for several months, leaving hundreds of workers unemployed and causing hardship for them.

The government is being deprived of revenues to the tune of  Tk 4 lakh [4,597 Euros] a month while hundreds of workers are living in a pitiable state losing their jobs. They are eagerly waiting for the mill to reopen.

The mill, when was in operation, fetched profit of around Tk 25 to Tk 40 lakh [28,732 Euros to 45,970 Euros] on an average a month and the government used to receive 13 per cent of revenues of the total production, sources said.

Some jobless workers on condition of anonymity said manager, technical, used to purchase low quality raw materials and fuel and this attributed a lot to the low production at the mill.

They said most of the workers had gradually lost interest in their work and often remained absent as the authorities deprived them of their dues when the mill was in operation.

Md Zahurul Alam, manager, technical, refuting the allegations said production was hampered as the workers often sat idle.

Two kinds of threads -- rayon and cotton -- were produced in the mill. About 65,000 to 70,000 kilograms of threads worth about Tk 25 lakh [28,732 Euros] were produced a month in the mill when it was in operation, official sources said.

They said monthly salary of 400 daily-basis workers was about Tk 10 lakh [11,492 Euros] whereas it was Tk 30 lakh [34,477 Euros] for 600 permanent workers and officials. The permanent workers who went on self-retirement under a 'golden handshake' programme are yet to get their gratuity and provident funds from the government.

Established on 26 acres of land at Ghagra Bazar of Ghagra Union under Kaukhali upazila in the district back in 1977, the mill went into production in 1983 under the Bangladesh Textile Mills Corporation (BTMC) that ran until 1996. Later, the mill ran with “No loss no profit” system by the private farm 'Sonali Traders' of Narayanganj on partnership basis from 1997. The tenure of the contract has expired on June 16 in 2008.

Since then the mill remained closed as no one has shown interest in investment in the mill as of today although the authorities have called tender for several times, RTM sources said.

Zahurul said the mill can't be given to private sector due to some complicated issues, including the land one. He said no one can buy land in the hill tracts as per the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Agreement. If anyone wants to buy the mill needs a certificate from circle chief as a permanent resident of the CHT, Zahurul said, adding that the price of the mill is about Tk 15 crore [172,389 Euros].

State Minister for CHT Affairs Dipankar Talukder said he has already discussed the matter with the industry minister on necessary measures to reopen the mill.