Two years since the initiation of a government project, work on modernising Karim Jute Mills is yet to begin.
So far, the mill at Demra in Dhaka has not seen any progress in construction of internal roads and drainage lines, repairing of non-residential buildings, or installation of tube wells and electric lines.
This is one of the three mills marked for modernisation and expansion under a Tk33.61 crore project taken up in January 2018. The two other mills are the Daulatpur Jute Mills in Khulna and the Karnaphuli Jute Mills and Furat Karnaphuli Carpet Factory in Chattogram.
All three mills have witnessed only basic civil work till now.
As of December 2019, only 6.79 percent of the allocated budget had been spent on the project, while its physical progress stood at 10 percent, according to a report of the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED).
IMED officials visited Karim Jute Mills in January and released the report on February 4.
The implementing agency has to complete the remaining work by December this year when the project was originally scheduled to end. With only 11 months left, the IMED doubted if the project could be completed in time.
Although land development has been done at Karim Jute Mills, the project did not have any allocation for such work. A proposal for inter-sectoral adjustment to the project has already been sent to the Planning Commission, the IMED report said.
Md Abdur Rauf, chairman of the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation, said, "We have not been able to start any work as the project proposal has to be amended. Work will begin once the required changes are made to the project."
Project Director Aung Sen Thoi said the project proposal was based on the rate schedule of 2014. Now prices of a lot of machinery and construction material have increased manifold.
"So, an amended proposal for the project is now being prepared as per the rate schedule of 2018."
The cost for the revised project may rise 25 percent, the project director said, adding that the project deadline will also be extended to June 2022.
Under the project, Karim Jute Mills is supposed to get a facelift, the Daulatpur Jute Mills is supposed to get a felt factory, and the multipurpose unit of the Karnaphuli Jute Mills and Furat Karnaphuli Carpet factory will be developed and modernised.
The jute mills are under the jurisdiction of the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation.
The project aims to produce diversified jute products as per the demand of local and foreign buyers, along with creating new jobs.
Karim Jute Mills
The Karim Jute Mills Limited was set up in 1954 and nationalised in 1972. Its industrial complex sits on over 50 acres of land.
On average, the factory produces 283 tonnes of hessian fabric, 799 tonnes of sack and 149 tonnes of carpet backing cloth per month.
At present, 3,642 (2,215 permanent) general workers, 153 staff members and 95 officers are employed at the jute mills.
Daulatpur Jute Mills
Set up in 1953 and nationalised in 1972, Daulatpur Jute Mills was again privatised after it had incurred continuous losses. But the factory ended up being shut in 2002 as its handover was not possible owing to lawsuits.
Later, the mills reopened in 2012-13 fiscal year.
The comparatively small-scale factory sits on around 23 acres of land. Some 600 workers are currently employed here.
Karnaphuli Jute Mills
The Dawood Industrial Group set up the Karnaphuli Jute Mills in the 1970s and it was nationalised in 1972.
But in 2007, the then caretaker government shut down the Karnaphuli Jute Mills and Furat Karnaphuli Carpet factory as it was incurring losses.
In 2008, it reopened as a private mill.
Later on January 26, 2013, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina formally inaugurated its operations after the BJMC took over the factory.
At present, there are about 800 workers, including 300 women, employed at the factory.