The plan to establish a large-scale, specialised industrial park in Bogura, which was initiated following the success of the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (Bscic), has been in limbo for around a decade.
According to Bscic officials, the initial survey for the project was found faulty, leading to the rejection of the project proposal. Consequently, a new survey, incorporating an environmental impact assessment, has been initiated recently. But this process is expected to take some time to be completed.
Once completed, the industrial park is expected to generate employment for more than one lakh people and revenue of around Tk1,000 crore in the government exchequer. The project is supposed to attract an investment of Tk4,000 crore from entrepreneurs, they said.
The officials added that the industrial park will prioritise environmental sustainability, featuring its own power station, fire service, gas line and pond, all designed to enhance the eco-friendly aspects of this modern facility.
According to sources, in 2014, Bogura BSCIC initially planned to establish the industrial park on 150 acres of land in the Shabgram area, but due to high land prices and unsuitable low-lying land, the plan was cancelled. However, in 2018, an alternative site was chosen in Shajahanpur upazila, offering 300 acres of land, where 1,000 plots will be allocated for the industrial park.
BSCIC established the first industrial city in Bogura on 14.5 acres of land in the Fulbari area back in 1960, and all plots were sold. Responding to demand, in the second phase in 1980 an additional 15 acres of land were expanded.
However, despite the growing demand from businesses, expanding the existing industrial city was not feasible. Consequently, the idea of establishing a second industrial city in the district emerged as a way of addressing the needs of industrial entrepreneurs.
According to the Bogura Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the district gained recognition as an industrial city in the 1960s, hosting numerous significant factories, such as cotton spinning mills, bidi, match, and ceramics factories.
Currently Bogura houses at least 1,500 small and medium industrial units dispersed throughout the city. Additionally, factories are also present in various upazilas of Bogura, extending even to arable lands.
Businessmen say a significant transformation occurred in the northern area of the country, including Bogura, in 1998 following the construction of the Bangabandhu Bridge over the Jamuna River. This bridge revolutionised the communication system between Bogura-Dhaka-Chattogram, leading to a subsequent rise in the number of factories in the region.
Mahfuzul Islam Raj, vice president of Bogura Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the strategic location in the heart of North Bengal and its excellent connectivity with Dhaka and Chattogram have made Bogura a favourable place for industrialisation.
"Entrepreneurs are eager to invest in Bogura, but there is no suitable place. There is an urgent need for another industrial park in the district," he said.
AKM Mahfuzur Rahman, deputy general manager of Bogura BSCIC, emphasised the significance of establishing another industrial park in the district, featuring zone-based industrial facilities.
"Proposals were submitted a few years ago, and once implemented, this project could attract investments of at least Tk4,000 crore," he said.
However, the official remains unaware of the specific reasons for the delay in its implementation.
Md Farhad Ahmed, general manager (planning) of Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation, said the initial survey for the proposal was deemed questionable, rendering it unacceptable. Consequently, the project proposal based on the survey was not approved.
He said the project proposal was initially prepared in 2018, but then underwent modifications and updates in 2022. The project proposal is now complete and ready for implementation.
He stated that the project is planned to be implemented on 300 acres of land. However, if for some reason no big project gets approval, there is a possibility of establishing the park on 153 acres of land at an estimated cost of around Tk1,000 crore.
According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), Bogura had no more than 1,542 industrial establishments before independence. However, by 2015, this number had soared to over one lakh, providing employment opportunities for approximately five lakh people.
Between 2000 and 2015, various industries, such as jute mills, paper mills, rice bran oil mills, tiles factories, pharmaceutical factories, irrigation machinery manufacturing, parts manufacturing, light engineering and metal industries developed sporadically in the district.
The Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) in Bogura now produces products worth at least Tk1,000 crore annually, contributing significantly to the local economy. Last year alone, the government garnered Tk164 crore in revenue from this thriving industrial sector.