A leather village will be set up at Mirsarai Economic Zone (EZ) to regain the lost heritage of leather industry in the region. Feasibility study on establishing the leather village will begin very soon, sources concerned said. Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) is establishing the Mirsarai EZ, the first self-contained economic zone in the country, on an area of about 30,000 acres of land in Mirsarai incorporating park, sea-port, residential area, power plant, hospital, school and university. BEZA executive chairman Paban Chowdhury said in a meeting recently here that the government has undertaken an initiative to set up in Mirsarai EZ in a planned way for attracting local and foreign investments. Welcoming the BEZA’s steps to set up the leather village in Mirsarai EZ, the tanners and rawhide traders here said new business opportunities would be created with the establishment of the leather village in Chittagong. Sekander Mia, President of Chittagong Rawhide Warehouse Traders’ Cooperative Association Ltd, said the initiative to set up a leather village will fulfill the long expectation of tanners and rawhide traders of Chittagong as the region has all potentials for the leather industry. “The leather village will rejuvenate the moribund tannery industry in Chittagong,” said the rawhide trader. There are now around 200 rawhide warehouses in Chittagong and 20,000-25,000 people are directly and indirectly involved with the rawhide business, Sekandar added. The region supplies around 35 per cent of the total rawhide in the country. “Wait for two years. We are going to set up a leather village on 300-500 acres of land in Chittagong. Many investors will come up with investment in that leather village,” Paban Chowdhury said, adding that some 0.2 million young people would get jobs there. After 2000, the industry started to suffer a setback due to several reasons due mainly to lack of skilled manpower and investment. There was no effluent treatment plant (ETP) to treat the waste before disposal, said tanners. There were a total of 18 tanneries in Chittagong before 1971. After the Independence, the number of tanneries rose to 21, said the tanners. Many renowned enterprises have already applied for plots in the economic zone for setting up their leather units, according to the BEZA. Paban said entrepreneurs from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan have already expressed their interests to establish tannery industries in the village. Sources said a total of 44 leather industries were in Chittagong which is almost destroyed within four decades. Around three million raw hides worth Tk 2,000 million are collected in Chittagong every year.