Staff Correspondent: There are 15 state-owned sugar mills in the country. Most of these mills under the control of Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industries Corporation (BSFIC) are pre-independence. As it gets older, efficiency decreases. Production is being disrupted. Various initiatives have been taken at different times to increase the production of sugar mills. However, none came to work.
The modernization of North Bengal and Thakurgaon sugar mills has cost more than Tk 22 crore. But the work of the two projects closed in the middle. Initiatives have been taken to produce various products including alcohol in the two new sugar mills. Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industries Corporation aims to produce 9 million liters of alcohol per year. The regulator is hopeful that exporting these alcohols to different countries of the world will bring in hundreds of crores of rupees.
It is learned that the only state-owned wine production and marketing company is Keru & Company Bangladesh Limited. The company will double production by adopting automated methods. Because the company is making a profit by producing wine. Following this, new products like Keru & Company Bangladesh Limited will be introduced at North Bengal and Thakurgaon Sugar Mills.
Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industries Corporation Chairman Arifur Rahman Apu said, ‘Previous projects of North Bengal and Thakurgaon sugar mills are closed. New projects will be taken up. For this a feasibility study will be done. Because even though the two projects were approved long ago, tenders were not invited in this budget.
He added, “Initiatives have been taken to produce alcohol in two sugar mills. There is a huge demand for these alcohols abroad. For this a new feasibility study will be done. At present Keru & Company Bangladesh Limited is producing alcohol. Following this, alcohol will be produced in Thakurgaon and North Bengal. It is possible to earn foreign currency by sending these products abroad. Some alcohol is also needed to make medicines. I will also make these products. It is not possible to make a profit just by selling sugar.
North Bengal Sugar Mill closed after spending Tk 8 crore 91 lakh
In February 2014, the project ‘Generation of Power and Establishment of Sugar Refinery in Co-Generation System at North Bengal Sugar Mill’ was undertaken at a cost of Tk 324.16 crore. The project was supposed to be completed in June 2021. But after spending Tk 8 crore 91 lakh, the work of the project has come to a halt.
The financial progress of the project is 2.84 percent and the physical progress is 16 percent. In the last 2021-22 financial year, Tk 25 lakh was allocated for the annual development program. Not a single penny was allocated after that. Work on the project is currently closed. The purpose for which the project was taken has not been implemented, while the government has spent Tk 8 crore 91 lakh.
The project was approved in 2014, 9 years have passed. At present the rate schedule of many equipment is not the same. As a result, tenders have been called for ‘project engineering’ work in the project at the approved cost, but now it is not matching. Repeated calls for tenders did not work. As a result, work on the project has stopped.
Anisul Azam, managing director of North Bengal Sugar Mills, told that work on the project is currently closed. Maybe start anew. The tender does not match the budget in which the project is approved. Thinking in a new way. The project also needs to be taken anew. Although tenders have been called internationally, the budget does not match. Project closed. Initially some expenses have been incurred. ‘
Tk 14 cr washed in Thakurgaon Sugar Mill
The ECNEC meeting in 2013 approved the project ‘Replacement of old equipment of Thakurgaon Sugar Mill and addition of necessary equipment for sugar production from sugar beet’ at a cost of Tk 465.62 crore. The project was to be completed by June 2021. 10 years have passed one by one.
But the physical progress of the project is only 16 percent. Of this, Tk 13 crore 98 lakh 56 thousand has been spent. The rate schedule of a decade ago and the current rate schedule are not the same. As a result, the required goods under the project are not matching in the bargain. In the last 2021-22 financial year, Tk 25 lakh was released under the project. Since then, no further allocation has been made under the project in ADP. As a result, work on the project is currently closed.
Thakurgaon Sugar Mill GM (Administration) Saiful Islam said that there is no visible progress in the project. Some cars were bought. Besides, there is no progress. Work on the project is currently closed. The higher authorities will be able to say when it will start.
Thakurgaon sugar mill managing director Shahjahan Kabir told, “I have been newly recruited here. I will join Thakurgaon Sugar Mill in a few days. But as far as I know, the work of the project is stopped now, if it was on, I would have known.
Even at the end of the term, the work of waste treatment plant of 14 sugar mills has not been fully implemented.
In order to ensure a healthy environment for people and biodiversity in the sugar mill area, work was started to set up waste treatment plants (ETPs) in 14 sugar mills. The total cost of the project is Tk 65 crore 10 lakh. Work on the project started in July 2016. The project is expected to be fully implemented by June 2021. There is only 75 percent progress at the end of the term.
Sugar Mills in Panchagarh, Thakurgaon, Setabganj (Rangpur), Shampur (Rangpur), Joypurhat, Rajshahi, North Bengal, Pabna, Kushtia, Keru & Co. (Chuadanga), Mobarakganj (Jhenaidah), Faridpur, Jill Bangla (Jamalpur) and Rangpur Sugar Mills will be replaced. Some ancillary works will be implemented under the project.
Keru & Co., the only alcohol producer in Bangladesh, says sales of their domestic liquor have increased by 50 percent in the last six months. At the same time, the demand for alcohol in the country has also increased, the company said. Keru & Co says they are increasing their production further in the new year.
Keru & Co renovation work in progress
The renovation work of Keru & Co. (BD) Ltd. was not completed even during the project period. The ECNEC meeting in 2012 approved Tk 102.21 crore for the renovation of the sugar mill. The project expires in June 2021. But the progress is only 45 percent. The financial progress of the project is only 26 percent.
In other words, out of the total expenditure, only Tk 24 crore has been spent. Instead of open bidding system, contract was executed with Bangladesh Machine Tools Factory (BMTF) for implementation of the project. Subsequently, the implementation period of the project was extended by one year till June 2015. Even then the project work was not implemented. Later, Sonali Bank was requested to cancel the LC given to BMTF. Even then, the work of the project started 10 years ago has not seen 100% light.
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