Brick is an essential material to continue the development projects across the country, but increasing brick production in traditional methods threatens to aggravate the environment and ruin public health. This thought prompted Ishfaqur Rahman Galib, a young entrepreneur in Dinajpur, to set up an eco-friendly concrete block factory that will meet the increased demand for bricks without harming the environment.
He set up Green Berry Concrete Bricks and Blocks, an eco-friendly concrete block factory, spending Tk50 lakh in January this year. Initially, he did not make any profit as very few people knew about his products.
Instead of feeling daunted, Galib went from door to door to inform people about the benefits of using eco-friendly concrete blocks. All his efforts bore fruit as he started making a profit from the seventh month of starting his factory.
Currently, Galib's factory produces one lakh pieces of concrete blocks per month at a manufacturing cost of Tk7-8 lakh, while the factory can produce up to five lakh pieces per month.
He has to spend Tk2 lakh per month on salaries and maintenance. By selling around 70,000-80,000 concrete blocks, he makes a profit of Tk50,000-60,000 per month.
The factory currently produces six types of concrete blocks, but it can make 30 types of blocks, which are used for building walls, roofs, partitions, sidewalks, roads, and parking lots.
"Constructing buildings with concrete blocks instead of traditional bricks can save at least 30-40% of the construction cost," said Galib.
"Buildings constructed with these blocks are earthquake resistant and insulated from heat. Moreover, these buildings can be painted directly without plastering the walls," he said.
Green Berry Concrete Bricks and Blocks factory uses stone powder, cement and sand instead of soil as raw material and does not burn raw bricks. So, the environment is not harmed in any way.
Currently, 18 people work in the factory which uses imported German machinery.
Jayanta Roy, manager of the factory, said, "Many people like me are employed here. Although there was not much production and sale at the beginning, the demand for these blocks is increasing day by day."
However, Galib faces a weird problem in manufacturing and marketing his blocks. The traditional brick kilns can make four types of bricks graded according to their varying quality and charge prices for them accordingly. But Galib's factory can produce only top quality concrete blocks which can be compared to grade-1 bricks produced in the traditional kilns.
While the 1,000 pieces of grade-1 bricks are sold at Tk12,000, the same amount of concrete blocks sold at the Green Berry factory is sold at around Tk9,500.
"The good thing is that the demand for eco-friendly concrete blocks is increasing among the people. If these blocks are preferred in the construction of government facilities, then many more entrepreneurs like me will emerge," said Galib.
The concrete blocks manufactured in Green Berry factory are currently sold in Dinajpur, Panchagarh, Thakurgaon, Rangpur and Bogura.
Dinajpur Public Works Circle Supervising Engineer Muhammad Zakir Hossain said, "Officially, there is a plan to start using concrete blocks in all the government installations by 2025. However, we have already taken an initiative to use these blocks in government installations."
"A tender process to construct three government facilities in Dinajpur by using mostly concrete blocks is underway. We have adopted a plan to build all government establishments with concrete blocks only," he added.
Dinajpur is one of the districts in the country where a large number of bricks are made by burning soil. There are 248 brickfields in this district, but only 76 of them have clearances from the Department of Environment. The fumes from these brickfields are constantly damaging crops, people's health and the environment.