The business community has expressed concern over the prolonged delay in completion of the mega project of Sialkot Tannery Zone (STZ) as the officials concerned remained unable to give a timeframe for its completion due to paucity of funds.

They said that no timeframe could be given in this regard. A meeting was presided over by Provincial Secretary Environment Punjab Iqbal Muhammad Chohan was held at the auditorium of Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry to review the pace of work of the project.

DCO Nadeem Sarwar, SCCI SVP Mir Alamgir, VC Malik Naseer Ahmed, Sialkot Tannery Zone Chairman Muhammad Haneef Khan, Chief Executive  Sheikh Naveed Iqbal, Sialkot International Airport Limited Chairman Sheikh Muhammad Yaqub and senior officials of the nation-building departments were also present.

Mian Muhammad Anwar, SCCI outgoing SVP, expressed his reservations over the delay, and said that inordinate delay in the completion of the mega project was causing disappointment among the businessmen.

On the occasion, Mr Chohan expressed grave concern over the inordinate delay in completion of the mega project, asking all the stakeholders to  come forward to play their pivotal role in ensuring the timely completion, showing their seriousness in this project.

The meeting was told that the project was started in 2009 for shifting all the 264 small, medium and big tanneries there from Sialkot city to save the Sialkot city from the environmental pollution caused by the tanneries scattered in and around the Sialkot city. It has taken a period of five consecutive years for starting the road infrastructure in Sialkot Tannery Zone that would be completed till the end of 2015. Only the boundary walls have yet been constructed there.

Sialkot Tannery Zone Project Director Muhammad Atif told the participants that the project was the first ever project of its kind in Pakistan. it is being established on more than 400 acres of land near village Khambraanwala in outskirts of Sialkot city, where all the tanneries would be shifted from Sialkot city after its completion. He said that 554 plots were allotted, out of which 126 allottees have yet paid completely.

Its Chief Executive Sheikh Naveed Iqbal said that funds paucity was also a major hurdle behind inordinate delay in the completion of the project. The project was started in 2009, but it took physical shape in 2013. Now, only the construction of the link roads in this tannery zone has yet been started since then.

On the occasion, the provincial secretary asked the managements of SCCI and STZ to ensure early re-building of the shattered confidence of all the stakeholders of this project. He also expressed grave concern over the very slow pace of work on the project, directing the officials concerned to jazz up speed of work. He assured the Sialkot business community that the project of Sialkot Tannery Zone would be fast-tracked, as the project would be helpful in the early shifting of the tanneries scattered in and around the Sialkot city. 

He said that the Punjab government was making sincere efforts to ensure maximum protection of environment, and that every person of the society was responsible to provide pollution-free environment to our coming generations.