First park for electrical, engineering products nearing completion
The construction of the country's first industrial park for electrical and light engineering product manufacturers in Munshiganj is set to be complete in June.
The industrial enclave is being built by the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) under the industries ministry under a Tk 309.59 crore project.
It aims to bring electrical and light engineering product manufacturers that have sprung up in an unplanned way across the country under a single platform.
Abdul Jalil, director of the project, said 91 per cent of the project has been completed and hopes that the project would be ready within the deadline.
The next step will be allocating the plots among the entrepreneurs. About 70 firms have already applied for plots.
"We will start allotting plots from June," Jalil said.
The construction began in March 2017 after the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council approved it in June 2016. Initially, the cost was estimated at Tk 213.26 crore, which was later revised up to Tk 309.59 crore, project documents showed.
The initial deadline was June 2019, but it has been extended to June this year owing to complexities in land acquisition, among other reasons.
Sitting on over 50 acres of land, the park has 362 plots. Half of them will go to electrical product makers and the rest to light engineering product manufacturers. The project is expected to create 10,750 jobs.
In order to secure plots, entrepreneurs will have to apply through Bangladesh Electrical Merchandise Manufacturers Association and Bangladesh Light Engineering Industry Owners Association (BLEIOA).
Cash-strapped entrepreneurs say it would not be possible to set up factories without getting the plot at a reasonable price. The BLEIOA has already written to the Prime Minister's Office, requesting it to reduce the price of the plots.
The government has set the price of each katha of the plot at Tk 13.50 lakh, down from the previous Tk 19.95 lakh.
"The price of each katha of land should be Tk 4 lakh," said Abdur Razzak, president of the BLEIOA.
"Then we will be able to take the plots. There's no reason for it to be overpriced. If the price is very high, it will not be possible for us to set up a factory," he said.
The BLEIOA has 350 members and all of them are interested in getting a plot, according to Razzak.
Md Aminul Islam, site engineer of the project, says currently work is underway to construct the boundary walls, drains and dumping zones, and carry out road carpeting.
Factories have to begin trial production within one year of the plot allotment.
In Bangladesh, the journey of the light engineering sector began after independence. Initially, factories were concentrated in Dholaikhal, Tipu Sultan Road, Narinda, Taher Bagh, Banagram, Jinjira, Keraniganj and other parts of Old Dhaka.
Later, factories were also set up in Bogura, Syedpur, Jashore, Chattogram, Kishoreganj, Brahmanbaria, Pabna, Natore, Rajshahi, Naogaon, Cumilla, and Noakhali.
Currently, there are about 50,000 factories all over the country. The light engineering sector makes products worth Tk 10,000 crore annually, meeting a third of the local demand of Tk 30,000 crore, according to the BLEIOA.
The industry directly employs six lakh skilled and about 10 lakh semi-skilled workers.
Electrical product makers say the local market for electrical items is Tk 20,000 crore to Tk 25,000 crore, and they cater to a portion of the gigantic market. Electrical products' manufacturers employ 5 lakh people.