SR Group has set up a chemical manufacturing plant in Bogura, the largest of its kind in the northern region of the country, at an investment of Tk 850 crore. The project went into operation last month.
Located on 35 acres of land in the Mirzapur area on the Dhaka-Rangpur highway under Sherpur upazila, SR Chemical Industries was established last year and started producing caustic soda on December 16.
So far, it has manufactured more than 650 tonnes of liquid caustic and 450 tonnes of caustic soda and sold them in the domestic market.
The products are being used in paper mills, water treatment plants, and disinfectant industries, according to Asif Rabbani, managing director of SR Chemical.
"We have a ready market in the garment and textile industries. Therefore, we have established this factory as a backward linkage of the growing garment, textile and cosmetic industries in the country," he said.
The annual production capacity of the factory is 54,000 tonnes, including 30,000 tonnes of caustic soda, 12,000 tonnes of bleaching powder and 12,000 tonnes of bleaching fine. Some other items will be produced as byproducts.
Once full-fledged production begins, it can produce seven types of chemicals, including caustic soda (flake), liquid caustic bleaching power, bleaching fine, hydrochloric acid, sodium hypochlorite and liquefied chlorine worth Tk 500 crore annually.
Half of the products will be exported to South Asian countries, Rabbani added.
It has a sales contract with bleaching fine technology partner Dezhou Chemtics of China, which will buy at least 50 per cent of the bleaching fine product.
About 60 per cent of the fund came from Islami Bank Bangladesh and the rest from SR Group's own coffer.
The plant will create jobs for 1,000 people. It has already recruited 800 people, including technicians, engineers and workers, said Md Rayhan Ferdoush, head of the production.
Some 15 to 20 Chinese technicians and engineers will provide technical support for the next two years.
Within January, a Chinese technical team will start producing bleaching fine, Rabbani said.
In Bangladesh, some other enterprises produce chemicals.
Tasnim Chemical of Meghna Group of Industries, Global Heavy Chemicals of Opsonin Group, and Samuda Chemical of TK Group produce caustic soda. ASM Chemical manufactures caustic soda and bleaching powder.
During a feasibility study, SR Chemical found that there is a demand for more than Tk 500 crore to Tk 600 crore worth of chemicals in the domestic market.
In order to address environmental issues, the company is using Japanese Asahi technology and the plant has been built by BCMC, a part of ChemChina, a Chinese company known globally for its green technologies, said Rabbani.
"We are running a zero-liquid discharge ETP [effluent treatment plant] following the environmental guideline. The plant is being controlled by an auto machine unit and there are 67 sensors. If leakage occurs, the whole plant will be shut down within seconds," he added.
The plant has secured the environment clearance from the Department of Environment (DoE).
Md Ashrafuzzaman, director of the Rajshahi divisional office in Bogura of the DoE, said SR Chemical availed the location clearance certificate last year to construct the plant.
SR Group runs 17 units in the areas of telecom, transport, logistics, restaurant, garment accessories, food processing, fast-moving consumer goods, CNG processing, information technology and chemicals.