Experts have called for more private sector engagement for a sustainable attainment of the Delta Plan 2100 – the comprehensive development blueprint focusing on economic growth, environmental conservation and enhanced climate resilience.
At a seminar in Dhaka on Saturday, they also emphasised a revision and updating of the plan every two to five years.
"Effective engagement of the private sector will generate sizable resources to finance the Delta Plan," Md Mizanur Rahman, former additional director general of the Bangladesh Water Development Board, told the seminar, "Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100: Private Sector Involvement to achieve a Safe, Climate-Resilient and Prosperous Delta".
Mizanur Rahman said prospects for attracting private investments in water treatment, water supply and sewage treatment point to a win-win policy. For the private sector, he said another prospective area could be farming and irrigation.
He said land reclamation in the coastal belt has potential for generating renewable energy, constructing new deep seaports, building exclusive housing and developing the tourism sector.
"There is a strong private sector interest in undertaking dredging contracts. Combining land reclamation with dredging in a public–private partnership concession framework would make very good sense. Joint partnership is also possible in establishing river port infrastructure for inland water transport," he added.
Md Jashim Uddin, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), which hosted the seminar, said private sector engagement is crucial for long-term sustainable development plans.
"There are around 700 rivers in the country, but we cannot utilise the river network properly. The government should reform the duty structure regarding dredger import," he added.
The apex trade body chief also underscored the need for ramping up the linkage between the academy and the industry.
Water resource specialist and Emeritus Professor Ainun Nishat said ministries should increase technological adjustment alongside capacity building to attain the Delta Plan targets.
Architect and urban planner Iqbal Habib said stakeholders should ensure accountability for sustainable development.
Shamsul Alam, state minister for planning, in his remarks as chief guest said delta plan projects offer a huge scope for the private sector.
"In Bangladesh, public investment was 85% once. But private sector investment now hovers around 83%. The sector can play a significant role in the Delta Plan too," the state minister added.
He noted that the country's river network should be revived, as the government mulls duty restructuring related to dredger import.