Deal #7546

Location #1

Spatial accuracy level
Exact location
Location
Sonargaon, Bangladesh

Latitude
23.6460948
Longitude
90.59910420000006
Facility name
Sonargaon Economic Zone
Target country
Bangladesh
Location description
Sonargaon Economic Zone Limited(SEZL), an enterprise of Unique Group, is located strategically near Dhaka on the bank of the mighty river Meghna which flows into the Bay of Bengal and is fairly connected with the main rivers of the country.
Comment on location
With its direct access to Dhaka-Chittagong national highway, the zone is lucrative for any potential investor.

Land area

Intended size (in ha)
182.109
Size under contract (leased or purchased area, in ha)
22
Size in operation (production, in ha)
[current] 182.109
Comment on land area
According to their website the land area of the SEZ is 450 acres but their pre-qualification licence only gave them 55 acres

Intention of investment

Intention of investment
Industry
Comment on intention of investment
Economic Zone.

Negotiation status

Negotiation status
[2016, current] Concluded (Contract signed)
Comment on negotiation status
Under Construction.

Implementation status

Implementation status
[2018, current] Project not started
Comment on implementation status
The project is under construction phase.

Contract farming

Contract farming
No

Number of total jobs created

Jobs created (total)
Yes
Planned number of jobs (total)
50000
Planned employees (total)
50000
Comment on jobs created (total)
It has a target of creating employment for 50 thousand people in the pharmaceuticals, finished leather units, electric assembling unit, and textile units to be set up the zone.

Operating company

Name of investment project
Sonargaon Economic Zone

 

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Data source #1

Data source type
Company sources
Publication title
SONARGAON ECONOMIC ZONE LTD.
Comment on data source
Unique Group website.

Data source #2

Data source type
Research Paper / Policy Report
Publication title
Sonargaon Economic Zone grabs villagers' farmlands, Bangladesh
Comment on data source
Web portal, a case report.

Names of communities / indigenous peoples affected

Comment on communities / indigenous peoples affected
The area attempted to be grabbed by the Company for its Resort City included river banks, wetlands and agricultural lands, covering 11 IRRI schemes (special rice cultivation scheme) crucial for the livelihood of 12,000 farming families of 10 villages, and are adjacent to the River Meghna. These activities were adversely affecting the navigability of the river, shrinking its waterway and destroying its flood plain; increasing the tendency of erosion and sedimentation, and damaging fishery, agriculture and biodiversity.

Recognitions status of community land tenure

Recognition status of community land tenure
Community traditional or customary rights not recognized by government
Comment on recognitions status of community land tenure
Locals social and cultural image hampered. Land is grabbed from the locals.

Consultation of local community

Community consultation
Not consulted
Comment on consultation of local community
Forcefully grabbed by the company.

How did the community react?

Community reaction
Rejection
Comment on community reaction
Locals social and cultural image are affected. Lands right is violated.

Presence of land conflicts

Presence of land conflicts
Yes
Comment on presence of land conflicts
Despite repeated appeals from the local people, the public agencies could not effectively prevent the land grabber company and compel it to remove the earth forcibly dumped on private agricultural lands and public lands including part of the Meghna River. The project named “Sonargaon Resort City” had no environment clearance certificate and land use clearance by the concerned authorities and the same was challenged before the Supreme Court of Bangladesh that directed the company to stop earth filling and remove the earth already dumped. The company first pleaded that it was removing earth but then later, restarted earth filling on the plea that it was no longer implementing the Resort City Project but has been authorised by the government to implement another Project named “Sonargaon Economic Zone” in the same area. While such dubious authorisation for setting up of an Economic Zone is also being legally contested, there are also resistances at the local people against the attempt of the company to fill up their lands under a new disguise. The local farmers started submitting memos to local administrative agencies. The local land office investigated and found that allegation of the local people about their land grabbing and encroachment of Meghna river were correct.

Displacement of people

Displacement of people
Yes
Comment on displacement of people
Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts.

Negative impacts for local communities

Negative impacts for local communities
Environmental degradation
Socio-economic
Cultural loss
Eviction
Displacement
Violence
Other
Comment on negative impacts for local communities
It is believed that various repressive tactics have also been adopted by the proponent and the local administration to intimidate local people, who believe that two murders committed in the area were connected with the setting up of the Economic Zone. Environmental Damages---- Visible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Other Environmental impacts Potential: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover Other: Filling up of fertile agricultural lands with earth for the so-called economic zone has led to less production of crops adversely affecting the farmers. Due to filling up of wetlands, fish stock has also disappeared and the ecology of the entire area is under stake. If the economic zone is ultimately allowed to be set up, industries from the zone may pollute the nearby river Meghna, that is supposed to be supplying potable water for the City. Health Damages---- Visible: Malnutrition, Other Health impacts Potential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide Other: Since there is no production from the lands forcibly covered with earth for the last few years, farmers unwilling to sell their lands are mentally devastated. Due to non-production of crops, vegetables and fish, food intake has significantly gone down. As there is no sell of locally produced crops, food purchasing capacity of the affecting families has also been reduced. Socio-economical Damages----- Visible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts Other: The proponent of the economic zone is influential, politically and economically. Due to his connections with the political high-ups, the affected farming communities are not getting any redress against forced grabbing of their lands. It is believed that various repressive tactics have also been adopted by the proponent and the local administration to intimidate local people, who believe that two murders committed in the area were connected with the setting up of the Economic Zone. It is believed that due to the money power of the proponent, local administration is deliberately not implementing the Court Order that has required removal of dumped earth.

Promised or received compensation

Promised compensation (e.g. for damages or resettlements)
Responding to the call of the local people, the Department of Environment slapped and realised a fine of take 59,655 US$ on the company for filling up agricultural lands, flood plains, rivers for its unauthorised project.
Received compensation (e.g. for damages or resettlements)
Compensation for the affected farmers have been sought but has not yet been directed (either by the judiciary or the executive) to be paid.

Promised benefits for local communities

Promised benefits for local communities
Productive infrastructure (e.g. irrigation, tractors, machinery...)
Financial Support
Other
Comment on promised benefits for local communities
Responding to the call of the local people, the Department of Environment slapped and realised a fine of take 59,655 US$ on the company for filling up agricultural lands, flood plains, rivers for its unauthorised project. The company was also directed to remove the sands already dumped from farmers’ lands.

Materialized benefits for local communities

Materialized benefits for local communities
Other
Comment on materialized benefits for local communities
Since the company didn’t fully remove the sands dumped and re-started its project in 2013, a Writ Petition No. 1683 of 2014 was filed to protect the agricultural lands, low lands, parts of the Meghna River and water body in Pirojpur, Jainpur, Chhoehishya, Char Bhabanathpur, Bhatibanda and Ratanpur mouzas from contrary use and illegal earth filling. Compensation for the affected farmers have been sought but has not yet been directed (either by the judiciary or the executive) to be paid.

Presence of organizations and actions taken (e.g. farmer organizations, NGOs, etc.)

Presence of organizations and actions taken (e.g. farmer organizations, NGOs, etc.)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA).

Former land owner (not by constitution)

Former land owner
Private (large-scale farm)
Other
Comment on former land owner
Basically, the locals and large-scale farmers.

Former land use

Former land use
Commercial (large-scale) agriculture
Comment on former land use
The six mouzas of Sonargaon Upazilla namely Pirojpur, Jainpur, Chhoehishya, Char Bhabanathpur, Bhatibanda and Ratanpur falling under Narayanganj district are comprised of largely agricultural areas.

Former land cover

Former land cover
Cropland
Wetland
Comment on former land cover
Comprised of largely agricultural areas with wetlands and river banks.

Detailed crop, animal and mineral information

Crops area
Rice
Comment on crops
No specific data source on crops yield and export.
Comment on livestock
No specific data source on Livestock area, yield and export.
Comment on resources
No specific data source on Resources area, yield and export.

Use of produce

Comment on use of produce
Special Features of SEZL include: Helipad, Jetties, Independent Power Plant, Golf Course, River Cruise, Leisure Lounge, Food & Beverage (5-Star Standard), Ambulance, Emergency Service, Medical Care, Amusement Center etc. SEZL’s aim is to attract new categories of investment in addition to the conventional ones. These are: Textile & Garment, Food Processing, Power Plant, Automobile, Petrochemical, Plastic And Other Consumer Goods, Electric & Electronics, Precision Machinery Parts, LPG Plant, A broad range of light, medium, and heavy industries is proposed for the site.

Water extraction envisaged

Comment on water extraction envisaged
No specific data source found.

Source of water extraction

Source of water extraction
Surface water (River, Lake)
Comment on source of water extraction
Khals( Canals), Meghna River.

Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT)

Application of Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT)
No

Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investments (PRAI)

Application of Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investments (PRAI)
No

Overall comment

Overall comment
Sonargaon Economic Zone Limited(SEZL), an enterprise of Unique Group, is located strategically near Dhaka on the bank of the mighty river Meghna which flows into the Bay of Bengal and is fairly connected with the main rivers of the country. With its direct access to Dhaka-Chittagong national highway, the zone is lucrative for any potential investor. Special Features of SEZL include: Helipad, Jetties, Independent Power Plant, Golf Course, River Cruise, Leisure Lounge, Food & Beverage (5-Star Standard), Ambulance, Emergency Service, Medical Care, Amusement Center etc. (1) SEZL’s aim is to attract new categories of investment in addition to the conventional ones. These are: Textile & Garment, Food Processing, Power Plant, Automobile, Petrochemical, Plastic And Other Consumer Goods, Electric & Electronics, Precision Machinery Parts, LPG Plant, A broad range of light, medium, and heavy industries is proposed for the site. The area attempted to be grabbed by the Company for its Resort City included river banks, wetlands and agricultural lands, covering 11 IRRI schemes (special rice cultivation scheme) crucial for the livelihood of 12,000 farming families of 10 villages, and are adjacent to the River Meghna. The project is still under construction/not started yet.

Jan. 29, 2020, 2:02 a.m.

active

This version

First version

  • May 28, 2020, 2:57 p.m. by Mohammad Hisham | Reply

    The Company link is: http://sez.com.bd/about.html

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