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Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) executive chairman Shaikh Yusuf Harun told Prothom Alo that four to five factories at the industrial enclave would have launched production this year, but the Covid situation dragged the investors back. He added that the construction of at least 13 factories is nearly complete.

The industrial enclave has been getting into shape on a 137 square kilometre area along the Bay of Bengal’s coast.

According BEZA’s mega plan, the industrial enclave will cover 33,805 acres of land in Sitakunda and Mirsharai upazila of Chattogram and Sonagazi upazila of Feni district. Industrial units will occupy 14,000 acres, or 41 per cent of the total industrial enclave while 59 per cent of land will be allocated for open space, forestry, port establishments, and facilities for residence, health, training and recreation.

Waiting period extended

The view of the industrial enclave was caught along the Sheikh Hasina Avenue connected to the Dhaka-Chattogram highway. A visitor can reach the industrial enclave protective dyke directly through a newly carpeted road.

One an half years earlier, a Chinese plant of the Zhuzhou Jinyuan Chemical Industries was erected on 10 acre land near to the BSMSN-based BEZA administrative building. Development of the plant cost $ 28 million. When coronavirus hit the country, the Chinese investors postponed the commissioning of the plant. Currently, security personnel are guarding the plant.

Construction of the steel rerolling plant of Nippon and McDonald Steel Industries was completed five months ago. The plant is a joint venture of Nippon Steel Trading, Japan and McDonald Steel Building Industries, Bangladesh.

Beside, McDonald has almost completed construction of its Steel Building Product plant in the BSMSN. The two plants have been developed on 100 acres of land with an expense of $ 60 million.

A senior official at McDonald Steel Building Industries recently told this correspondent that the joint venture plant was scheduled to be inaugurated in April-May this year. Production at the plant was being delayed due to the unavailability of foreign experts. However, McDonald Steel would start production by this year and go in full capacity from the next year.

Construction of the Indian plant of Asian Paints on 20 acres of land was in full swing. The plant was scheduled to start production of paints and raw materials form June this year. The Covid situation too delayed production from the plant. At least five industrial plants including a 150KV power plant have faced the same fate.

As the second wave of Covid transmission has started to slow down, BSMSN gets a boost in construction of other industrial plants.

With an investment of $150 million, a production plant of the Modern Syntex Limited is being erected on a 20–acre plot. Fifty per cent of the plant’s construction work completed.

There were some other under-construction plants in BSMSN.

However, the recent visit did not see any under-construction site in the BEPZA economic zone and in the SBG economic zone. BEPZA stands for the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority while SBG is a consortium of Sikder Group, Bashundhara Group and GasMin.

Land of the two economic zones were developed.

BSMSN is attracting more investment compared to the other economic zones. In total, the economic zones have seen investment of $ 28 billion. Of the invested money, $ 20 billion, or 71 per cent, is spent in BSMSN.

BEZA officials said that 5,000 acres of BSMSN land were distributed among the 122 entrepreneurships so far. There are 31 more entrepreneurs waiting to invest in the industrial enclave that is expecting investment on around 6,000 acres of land in total.

BEZA has developed 21,000 acres of land for BSMSN under its 34,000-acre master plan.

Successful implementation of the plan will attract huge amount of investment, BEZA officials think. However, the investors are now waiting for supply of logistics including gas, power, water, and road communications. BEZA has set gas and power connections and developed the internal road communication. However, there is no water supply line in the BSMSN.

The industrial enclave, when developed completely, will need supply of 1.12 billion litres of water every day. The water supply projects will need more time to be implemented. Before the full capacity of water supply is installed, industrial plants in BSMSN need to extract water by deep-tube-wells.

97 economic zones get approval

The government wants to implement 100 economic zones by 2030. Around 10 million jobs would be created there. The government is planning to earn $ 40 billion more from the export-based economic zones. Implementation of BSMSN is a part of the plan.

Initially, BSMSN was opened as Mirsharai Economic Zone in 2016. Next year in April, BEZA sought application for the plot. The Mirsharai zone was named as Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar in 2018.

So far, the government approved 97 public and private economic zones. Of the zones, 28 are under-development.

BEZA is providing the investors with necessary support to build industries, developed and non-developed land plots on 50-year lease rental basis. A 23-long super dyke has been constructed to protect the industrial enclave from the sea.

Chittagong Chamber Of Commerce and Industry president Mahbubul Alam told Prothom Alo, the development works of BSMSN should be geared up. There should be every necessary logistical support otherwise, the industrial plants cannot be operated. As the Covid situation is improving, implementation of BSMSN should be completed quickly.

*The original report appeared in the print and online editions of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Sadiqur Rahman

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