Mohammad Abu Sadeque, executive director of the Centre for Housing and Building Research and former director general of Housing and Building Research Institute, said that block manufacturing was started in Bangladesh 25 years ago but it couldn’t get popularity.
He said that block was still new in Bangladesh which needed huge research to customise it to fit it into the circumstances of the country.
‘The technology was not developed considering Bangladesh perspective, so it did not gain popularity,’ he said.
He also added that same technology work differently in different geological locations and suggested that different raw materials should be customised for better adaptation.
‘We need different recipes for making block using different sands available in different districts of the country,’ said Sadeque.
He argued that it was not difficult but none was interested to do the job.
He said that so far at least 1,000 block manufacturing industries were developed across the country, including the small ones, but most of them were yet to run well as the government showed a bias towards the clay brick.
He said that the number of unregistered clay brickfield was higher than the registered ones, which were polluting the environment and burning fertile topsoil of croplands — a fact that bears down heavily on the country-wide food production, ultimately risking food security of the people.
The engineer also pointed out that the government should give incentive to the block producers and should also pave the way for all by starting to use blocks in its construction and renovation work. Only then will this gain popularity, he explained.
He said that government might introduce tax holiday facility for the block manufacturers, it can also support them by cutting VAT on block-making machinery import and initiate a massive awareness campaign to change public’s attitude towards the use of blocks.
‘I think the government is not willing to stop clay bricks and introduce blocks, but it is a change that we must embrace,’ said Sadeque, a campaigner to promote eco-friendly construction materials.
He said that blocks must be adopted for construction because topsoil use was not possible any more in Bangladesh, which is a densely populated country.
Many countries like China and India have banned the use of topsoil to protect fertile land even after having per capital 68 decimal land in China, 40 in India while per capital land for Bangladeshis only 12 decimal.
He said that considering the practical scenario the government adopted a policy to used blocks in government buildings since last year.
According to the decision, government will use 10 per cent block in its construction and renovation in 2019-20 Fy, 20 per cent in 2020-21, 30 per cent in 2021-22, 60 per cent in 2022-23, 80 per cent in 2023-24 and 100 per cent in 2014-25.
‘It is a good decision but it should be considered a priority. It is better than never,’ he said.
He said that although the government took the decision but it showed little interest in implementation of the decision as the government was not using block in building its own projects.
He said from his experience that government took some good initiatives but few of them were implemented in reality. Actually the implementing agencies were not willing, he added.
He urged the authority to facilitate easy loan for block entrepreneurs and stop loan facility for brickfield owners for further investment.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Interview