The use of eco-friendly concrete blocks, which has been made mandatory by the government, is not progressing properly as entrepreneurs are facing hurdles without loan facilities and incentives.
Earlier the government had decided to ban the use of traditionally manufactured bricks, which destroy environment, impair climate and greenery, with a view to reducing the environment pollution and encouraging use of the new environment friendly technology to fully comply by 2024-25 fiscal year.
Hence, the government has started encouraging the use of the new technology in building concrete blocks. Sources at the House and Building Research Institute (HBRI) said, in making the concrete blocks they have successfully used the technology. The support-seekers, they are being provided the technological solution, they added.
However, lack of loan and incentive facilities has become a major barrier to the expansion of the industry of new concrete block factories.
As the idea of concrete block is still new, many private and state-owned banks are reluctant to finance such entrepreneurship. However, they are now working to raise awareness in this regard, they added.
HBRI principal research officer Nafizur Rahman told Bangladesh Post, “We are working with other stakeholders to inspire our financial institutes and make them understand the prospects of use of the concrete block factories. To make loan facilities available for the entrepreneurs we have a plan to raising awareness in district level and, hope, such initiatives would give good results.”
Bangladesh Bank executive director Serajul Islam told Bangladesh Post, “We have directed banks to provide loan in environment-friendly projects. If any banks neglect such directives based on a report, we will take action against them.”
He has also urged entrepreneurs to ensure that they fulfil all the requirements to get a loan.
The use of concrete blocks or eco-friendly bricks can play an important role in mitigating environmental and climate disasters.
Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) Chief Executive Syeda Rizwana Hasan said, “Fertile topsoil is being used in all brick kilns of Bangladesh for manufacturing the conventional bricks. As a result, the area of arable land is decreasing and the possibility of a food shortage is increasing. Use of eco-friendly blocks will play a significant role in reducing air pollution and deforestation.”
She also fears that if the mandatory usage of technologically advanced bricks, and the target set by the government cannot be monitored regularly, the real outcome of the purpose will go in vain.
In response to a query, HBRI Principal Research Officer Nafizur Rahman said, “We are trying to replace existing brick kilns to encourage use of eco-friendly concrete building block manufacturing plants. Thus, it will take less time to develop such plant and this will also help spread these blocks among their existing customers.”
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Concrete Block (manufacturers) Association secretary Engineer Bazlur Rahman told Bangladesh Post, “As the eco-friendly concrete block manufacturing plants are yet to get popularity and use of concrete block is neglected in the government tender process, banks are not interested to finance us. If those problems can be identified along with other existing issues, maybe, we will have a good time ahead.”
The government issued a notification in 2019 mandating the use of eco-friendly blocks as an alternative to conventional bricks in all government construction, repair and renovation works, building walls and boundary walls for the purpose of reducing the use of soil under the Brick Manufacturing and Brick Kiln Establishment (Control) Act, 2013 (Amended 2019).
A target was set by the government to ensure the use of the eco-friendly blocks in the government's construction projects -30 percent by the fiscal year 2021-2022, 60 percent by 2022-2023, 80 percent by 2023-2024, and 100 percent by the fiscal year 2024-2025.