With a monthly pay of Tk50,000 and Tk30 lakh in advance, he rented a printing shop in Dhaka's Fakirapool in early 2020. Then came the pandemic, further squeezing the printing business that had already lost its good old days. The 1,200 square feet printing shop Mati O Manush now struggles for survival. But Nurul Islam believes his fight for recovery could have been a fair game had he not paid through the nose for the space. For old printing entrepreneurs and new ones like Nurul Islam, a dedicated printing industrial park is a kind of light at the end of the tunnel to escape skyrocketing rents. According to the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (Bscic), printers will have to wait two more years for the project, spanning 100 acres of land, to be completed in Sirajdikhan upazila of Munshiganj. But the initial 2016 project plan was to establish the park on 42 acres of land by the Dhaka-Mawa highway in the same upazila. Bscic there faced land acquisition hiccups for five years, and then shifted to the new location with a bigger plan. "The new site offers khas land at a comparatively cheap rate. Since there are no neighbourhoods on the demarcated site now, there will be no acquisition issue this time," Md Nizam Uddin, director of Bscic's printing park project, told The Business Standard. In the same area, Bscic is also setting up a plastic industrial city to relocate scattered plastic making units at one place. With the location changed, the printing park project has been revised recently, raising the cost of the project to around Tk275 crore from Tk138 crore, while the new deadline is 2026. Infographic: TBS Infographic: TBS Nizam Uddin said since the project site will expand, the number of plots will more than double. "However, the actual number of plots will be known after the master plan is readied. Initially, the number of plots is expected to be 299." Bscic officials said the revised project proposal has been sent to the Planning Commission. Land acquisition can begin within three months of the approval being received. Though the revised proposal has increased the total cost of land acquisition and compensation, per acre acquisition cost has been reduced. In the original project proposal, per acre land acquisition and compensation cost was estimated to be more than Tk2 crore. In the revised project, it has come down to Tk1 crore.
However, land development expenditure has increased by Tk42 crore in the revised proposal due to the increase in land size. The park will draw new investments, printers hope Shahid Serneabat, chairman of the Printing Industries Association of Bangladesh, believes the new park will bring in more new investments to the Tk12,000 local printing market. Currently, printing shops supply printed items to readymade garment, medicine and other export-oriented industries. Printing Industries Association says modern printers are being set up in key industrial cities such as Dhaka, Narayanganj, Chattogram, Narsingdi and Mymensingh. If production facilities cannot be brought to one place, the industry will not develop. Therefore, the association has moved to buy land in Dhaka's Keraniganj district since the small printing units might not be able to shift to the industrial park. However, the association chairman said the printing park will help the industry mature and turn local printing into an exporting sector. Now there are more than 4,500 printing presses in Dhaka alone, while the industry employs 4 lakh people across Bangladesh. According to the authorities, the industrial park will generate employment for more than 2 lakh people. "The move is certainly good news for us. But the authorities should speed up the implementation," Shahid Serneabat noted, referring to rising space rents in Dhaka.