Bangladesh Steel and Engineering Corporation (BSEC) has initiated a move to set up a chemical warehouse at Tongi, aiming to ensure the relocation of chemical warehouses from Old Dhaka within the shortest possible time.
This project apparently sidelines the Munshiganj chemical estate project, which was approved by the government to implement in between July 2018 and June 2022, spending Tk 1615.73 crore, said a top official at the BSEC.
He said, "Despite the process of setting up a chemical estate in Munshiganj, the Tongi chemical warehouse project has been undertaken recently following the devastating fire in chemical godowns in Old Dhaka."
Seventy-one people were killed and around 41 others injured in the devastating fire that raged through several buildings at Nandakumar Duta Road and Churihaata Shahi Mosque Road of Chawkbazar on February 20 last.
He mentioned that the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) also approved the project with an allocation of Tk 91.74 crore on June 28 this year to implement it between July 2019 and December 2020.
Officials at the Ministry of Industries, however, said the BSEC wants to implement the Tongi warehouse project under direct procurement method (DPM) to avoid a tender process as it believes that any tender process may delay the project.
"We've received the BSEC proposal and put forward it to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) for approval," said a senior official at the Industries Ministry.
The BSEC is a subordinate body of the Industries Ministry, and it needs the ministry's initial consent prior to seeking CCEA approval.
The CCEA is the highest body authorised to give the final approval of the government, said the official.
While arguing for the DPM method to award contract for the Tongi warehouse project, the BSEC said the chemical estate at Sirajdikhan in Munshiganj under Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) has been taken to relocate the existing chemical business from the old part of Dhaka city.
"But the implementation of such a chemical estate, where both chemical industries and warehouses to be located, will require a long time as it involves a land acquisition process," said the BSEC in its proposal sent to the CCEA.
It also said the Tongi warehouse project will be implemented on six acres of land owned by BSEC in Tongi industrial area.
The BSEC said the main objective of the Tongi chemical warehouse project is to remove the chemical warehouses from Old Dhaka at the fastest possible time.
"Once the Tongi warehouse project is implemented, it'll be possible to store different kinds of chemicals -- liquid, solid, flammable, inflammable, explosive and liquefied gas -- there," the BSEC mentions in its proposal.