Prospects in Khulna
Prospects for Investment and Business in Khulna
The initial euphoria following the partition of India in 1947 had seen the establishment of several industries in Khulna, and the setting up of the Chalna Anchorage, which later became Mongla port. The sentiment then was that Khulna would be the counterpart of Calcutta as a center of commerce and industry. But by the 1960’s, the euphoria had subsided as construction of Farakka barrage began in India. The barrage was being built no more than 16 km upstream of the place where the mighty Ganges River enters Bangladesh, and its purpose was to divert its waters to keep the Calcutta (at present Kolkata) port navigable.
Moreover jute, which had been the “Golden Fibre” and goods produced with it, that were the principal export commodities of this region began to lose ground to cheaper and more durable synthetics, in spite of the fact that jute, because of its bio-degradable nature, is more environment-friendly than synthetics. The downfall of jute was accompanied by the implementation of the Coastal Embankment Project (CEP), which enclosed the entire southwest coastal region of Bangladesh within about 30 polders with 1566 km of high earthen embankments and 282 sluices.
The CEP proved beneficial for about a decade and a half, but man’s intervention in the Acts of Nature was also building up during that period. As the saline tides were denied entry into the polders in order to keep them free of salinity for year-round cultivation of food grains, the tides began to deposit their load of silt on the riverbeds. Gradually the riverbeds silted up and rose until they became higher than the land within the polders, causing at first seasonal drainage congestion, which later became permanent water logging within the polders. The waterlogged area gradually expanded until iot stood at over 100,000 hectares by 1990.
This degradation of Khulna’s hinterland had both harmful and beneficial effects. Harmful because it rendered thousands of small and marginal farmers jobless, and they began to migrate to the city to add to its congestion and degradation of environment. The beneficial effect was that the farmers who lost their lands to water logging began cultivating at first merely fish and later on shrimps and prawns. The world’s demand for frozen shrimps and prawns kept on increasing and is increasing still. The result was the establishment of over two score plants for processing shrimp, which revived the diminishing importance of Khulna as an industrial and commercial center.
During the same period, that is, from the mid-1980’s till date, jute is also having a two-pronged revival. One is that its bio-degradability is finding favor in a world that has become more environment conscious than ever before, and secondly, coordinated multinational research has resulted in finding more uses for jute. So now the closed jute mills are reopening one by one and export of jute goods are increasing year by year. Moreover, the government is in the process of privatization of state-owned enterprises, which will make many jute mills and other industries available for private investment. There is also the feeling of a revival in South Asian inter-state cooperation, which kindles further possibilities for Khulna for being close to India.
But by far the most important attraction in this coastal region is the Sundarban, which is the single largest block of mangrove ecosystem that exists in the world today, though its tourist potential has never been exploited through sheer negligence and lack of initiative. Here also, private initiative has shown the way, and there is the potential for tourism to expand more speedily, especially eco-tourism, both of the natural as well as of the cultural variety.
Thus tourism is destined to flourish in the Khulna region, calling for investments in the hospitality industry, transport and many other related fields. Khulna can be a hub for tours and excursions into the Sundarbans as well as the numerous historical sites that represent the culture of this part of the world. And for all this, Khulna and its hinterland is one of the most promising areas for investment in Bangladesh.
Thus jute, shrimps and prawns and tourism give promise of good returns from investment, and opens up a world of opportunity for the economic prosperity of the inhabitants, which in turn will enable the local markets for manufactured goods to grow.
But the problems of salinity and shortage of fuel and energy will still remain. In order to solve the salinity problem, there is already a provision in the proposed Ganges barrage project to ensure year round supply of a minimum 250 cubic metres per second (cumecs) of fresh water to the Gorai, which will push the saline front to the downstream of Khulna city. By further providing 125 cumecs to the Mathabhanga, from which the Kapotakhi and Bhairab get their water, the saline front can be pushed farther downstream.
Another requirement is to extend the Natural gas pipeline from Sirajganj to Khulna or at least to Bheramara, and build power generating units using gas. Coal is also an option for power generation, but it will be foolish to burn it off without deriving additional benefits from coal. Huge coke ovens can be set up at mines to produce coke and other by-products. These by-products including coal tar and gases can be used as raw materials for innumerable organic chemical industries. Coal burning must be prohibited, and coke may be burned whether in iron smelting furnaces or in cooking stoves. This will also save the country from air pollution.
There is a huge potential in the shrimp industry. At present we are in culture and freezing only, and that too in an under-developed stage. Further development will require new technology, which can be acquired easily. By stepping one level higher, we can advance to Fish and Shrimp canning. In that sector there is plenty of scope for joint venture, which will be needed to acquire technology. Shrimp and fish wastes can also be used as raw materials for many small-scale industries.
With the development of the shrimp industry, there will be a huge demand for shrimp feed, which can also be used as poultry feed. There is urgent necessity for establishing feed industries in the Khulna region, from which both shrimp and poultry sectors can benefit.
There is also a prospect for developing earthenware and ceramic products, as roofing and flooring tiles are being exported to Italy and other countries of Europe for the last few years. There is much scope for development of such an industry, as there is an abundance of skilled labor in this region.
Thus it is seen that Khulna and its hinterlands holds a lot of promise to courageous and imaginative investors, and general improvement in the lives and livelihoods of the people.For getting your desired form please click on the download link.