All special economic zones in the country will have modern waste treatment plants because the government is aware about the consequences of its absence, a top official has said.
Paban Chowdhury, executive chairman of Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA), said, “The government is going to set up around 100 special economic zones in next 15 years. Each of them will have a modern facility for wastewater treatment.”
“We are aware of the impacts of industrial waste. We had one industrial zone, Hazaribagh, without a treatment plant and we know how it affected us.
“So, we are discussing with local and international entrepreneurs about installing central effluent treatment plants (CETP) in our special economic zones,” he said while speaking at a seminar in a Dhaka hotel on Wednesday.
The official said that since a special economic zone covers a huge area and houses many factories, it would not be possible for the government to build ETPs for all of them separately. The government is looking for investment offers in this sector, he said.
The seminar titled “Wastewater management and financing in special economic zones” was jointly organised by water solution company Flowater, Dutch entrepreneurial development bank FMO, and international wastewater solution company Nijhuis Industries.
Saleh Ahmed, deputy secretary and manager of BEZA, gave a presentation about the biggest special economic zone located in Mirersarai, Chattogram where local and international entrepreneurs would be able to set up factories with government incentives.
The investors in special economic zones would enjoy attractive benefit packages from including a tax holiday for 12 years and VAT exemption on electricity, he said.
Michael Mack of 2030 Water Resources Group, a public-private-civil society collaboration, said the demand for industrial use of water is increasing, and it will go up by 10 percent by 2030. Reusing wastewater after treating is a solution being popular in the global industrial sector, he added.
He said they conducted a small survey among 12 Bangladeshi entrepreneurs about treatment of wastewater. Eight showed a strong interest about using modern technology in waste treatment, three showed weak interest and one showed no interest in using ETPs.
He said local entrepreneurs face different kinds of challenges in setting up ETPs including a lack of local expertise about modern technology and finances.
Mustafa Azim Kasem Khan, managing director of Flowater Solutions Ltd, said Bangladesh achieved a tremendous growth in the textile sector in the last three decades, but the growth came at a huge price in terms of environment pollution.
Flowater wants to ensure sustainable growth for the industrial sector by offering eco-friendly solution to manging industrial waste, he said.
Wouter Van Betuw, manager (business and industries), Nijhuis Water Technology BV, said they have set up ETPs for different industries around the globe. They have partnered with Flowater, and would like to extend their services in Bangladesh, he added.
Pritha Hariram, senior business development officer of FMO, said their bank is already in operation in Bangladesh, and they are interested in extending help to entrepreneurs.
Asif Zahir, deputy managing director of Ananta Group, shared the company's experience about setting up their textile factory in Mirersarai special economic zone.