The Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (Beza) has completed the acquisition of 1,106 acres of land for three special economic zones exclusively for Indian investors.
The Beza acquired 110 acres land for Mongla Economic Zone in Bagerhat, 496 acres for Bheramara zone in Kushtia and 500 acres for the Mirsharai zone in Chittagong.
The process to acquire another 550 acres for the Mirsharai zone is underway.
The prime minister has approved the development project proposal for the Mongla and Bheramara zones, said Paban Chowdhury, executive chairman of Beza.
Besides, two such proposals for the Mirsharai zone and two ICT-based economic zones to be set up in Munshiganj have been sent to the PMO for approval, he said.
India will provide $278 million to establish the five zones, of which the ICT-based zones will remain open for all investors, Chowdhury said.
International contractors have been selected for the development work of the five zones, he said.
Chowdhury believes the successful implementation of the Indian economic zones would eventually reduce the trade imbalance between the two countries that heavily tilts towards the neighbouring country.
An Indian diplomat in Dhaka told The Daily Star that they are keen to start operations in the three zones as soon as possible.
“Our investors, including giant Adani group, are eagerly waiting to set up their industrial units in the economic zones.”
The fund for four of the economic zones will come from second line of Indian credit of $2 billion that has been issued for Bangladesh in March of 2016.
The funds are disbursed under a memorandum of understanding signed between the governments of Bangladesh and India during the last visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 6 in 2015.
The Mirsharai zone will be developed with fund from the third line of credit of $4.5 billion, disbursement of which is yet to start.
The economic zones aim to promote balanced development of multi-product industries in different parts of the country, create jobs for the locals and attract foreign direct investment, Chowdhury said.
In February, Bangladesh and India set modalities for building economic zones in Mongla and Bheramara at a cost of $88 million under the second line of credit.
According to Chowdhury, the Beza has completed acquiring a total of 40,000 acres of land for economic zones across the country and has awarded 23 licences to private the sector to set up the zones.
Of them, six are final licences and the rest are primary.
The final licences were given for Mehgna economic zone, Mehgna industrial zone, Bay economic zone, Abdul Momen economic zone, City economic zone, and Aman economic zone.
These zones have already started production, Chowdhury said. Eight new industrial units will be opened at the Meghna zone on March 31.
Another 14 private zones are in the pipeline to receive primary licences. The prime minister has so far approved 56 sites for the economic zones.