Akij goes green

Sajjadur Rahman
Akij Group quietly went green seven months ago by setting up a 12-megawatt biomass thermal power plant costing more than Tk 10 crore. The group is using the power in several of its factories at Munshiganj, saving the company a portion of the money being spent for gas and electricity.

“We are saving Tk 30-40 lakh a month by using the energy of our plant,” said Sk Bashir Uddin, managing director of Akij Group.

“We found that solid waste generated by our particle board mills could be a vital raw material for biomass power,” Bashir Uddin told The Daily Star. “We hired Chinese and Singaporean consultants, and set up the plant.”

Electricity and gas crisis is a burning issue for industries in Bangladesh. Shortages have forced many factories to run on furnace oil and diesel, which cost five and ten times more respectively, than gas.

Akij’s green initiative differs from others, who pressed for lending rate cut to offset energy production costs.

“Our factories generate lots of solid waste and we thought it could be a good option to fight the crisis we have been facing for the last two years,” said Bashir Uddin.

He expects to save more money once the power plant runs on full scale; it now runs on less than half of the capacity.

Niaz Rahim, group director of Rahimafrooz, said it is the biggest biomass plant in Bangladesh. “The plant has viability because the group generates huge solid waste,” said Rahim.

Akij Group started business in the late 1940s in jute trading. The group manufactured handmade cigarettes, branded as Akij Bidi, before growing to more than 40 concerns — from cement to beverages — with a combined annual turnover of nearly Tk 6,300 crore.

The group has so far created 60,000 jobs and paid nearly Tk 1,600 crore ($227 million) in taxes in fiscal 2009-10.



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