Plots remain vacant due to high price of land

While this lush, green field may seem like the perfect place to plant your crop of choice, it is actually a vacant plot at the BSCIC industrial estate in Sreemangal. Despite having all the required facilities, the industrial area remains completely devoid of investors. PHOTO: Mintu Deshwara

The Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) industrial estate in Sreemangal upazila of Moulvibazar has all the required facilities but remains vacant as plot prices are considerably high, according to various entrepreneurs.

Besides, the lack of publicity, security and administrative officers also deter potential investors, leaving the industrial area to slowly turn back into a jungle.

Plot prices are two to three times higher inside the estate compared to land in the vicinity and so, it is not possible to set up units in the BSCIC area if the government does not provide any subsidy, they said.

BSCIC authorities say the estate was built on 20 acres of land in Sreemangal's Uttarsur area to meet the needs of local entrepreneurs with some 122 plots available.

Implemented at a cost of about Tk 50 crore between July 2012 and June 2019, the industrial area is complete with multiple office buildings, pump houses, dumping yards, mosques, ponds and other facilities.

In addition, utility connections for water, gas and electricity have been ensured.

However, only three plots were sold in 2019 and even then, the investors eventually cancelled their allotments considering the high price.

Plots at the estate were initially priced at Tk 4 lakh per decimal while it was later brought down to Tk 3.48 lakh for the same amount of space.

Pulak Sutradhar, managing director of Prangob Agro and Fisheries Limited, was one of the entrepreneurs to cancel his allotment on grounds that it is not possible to develop an industry in the area with such high land costs.

"I took the plot even though it was expensive but as most other investors did not show interest, I eventually took my money back," he said.

Sutradhar then purchased a plot on Moulvibazar highway at a much lower price to set up his factory.

Samad Mia, a local investor, said small investors like him are not attracted by the BSCIC area due to its lack of publicity and administrative manpower, which would look after the interests of entrepreneurs.

AKM Fazlul Karim, estate officer of the BSCIC area, said efforts are being made to garner interest among investors through newspaper advertisements, seminars, word of mouth and workshops.

Still, all the plots are vacant as entrepreneurs complain that the land price is very high.

"Our head office determined the plot prices, so we have nothing to say here," he added.

Asked about the publicity campaign, he said they are doing exactly as directed by the head office.

Entrepreneurs are also wary of setting up shop at the estate due to its inadequate security measures.

During a recent visit, this correspondent found only one guard present in the entire facility.

Biswajit Sarkar, the lone caretaker of the BSCIC estate, said five transformers have been stolen from the area so far.

Jahar Tarafder, member secretary of the Tea Planters and Traders Association of Bangladesh, said Sreemangal has become a business hub but the price of plots at the BSCIC estate prevents entrepreneurs from taking up residence.

The current value of land along the Moulvibazar highway is around Tk 1.5 lakh per decimal while plots at the BSCIC area cost upwards of Tk 3 lakh.

"So, I do not understand why anyone would buy these plots at such a price," he added.

Md Bellal Hossain Bhuiyan, deputy manager of the BSCIC office in Moulvibazar, said the price of plots is high as they have to buy land at three times higher cost as per the government provision for land acquisition.

"An awareness meeting on the pricing was also held just a few days ago," he added.

Bhuiyan went on to say that plots can be purchased in 10 instalments over five years, which is an opportunity for investors.

"The BSCIC District Plot Allotment Committee has been sent to the head office for approval to allot 40 plots in the name of the same institution, which is now under process," he said.

Meanwhile, Mir Nahid Ahsan, deputy commissioner of Moulvibazar, said necessary steps should be taken to attract investors to the BSCIC area, where all the required facilities are available.


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