The government on Tuesday approved a project to relocate the state-owned Essential Drugs Company Limited (EDCL) from Dhaka to Manikganj.
In addition, the 60-year-old dilapidated plant in Tejgaon of the capital will be modernised as per the Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) guidelines.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina approved the project with an estimated expenditure of Tk1,905 crore.
The current plant in Dhaka could not be expanded due to a lack of real estate and government policy. As per the project, the plant is being shifted to Meghshimul area in Manikganj Sadar on the banks of the Dhaleshwari River along the Dhaka-Aricha highway.
The revamp aims to achieve public sector self-sufficiency for medicine supply by reducing the dependency on the private sector. The construction of the new plant is set to be completed within the next five years.
After the meeting, Planning Minister MA Mannan told reporters that the project has been approved to make the lone state-run drug company more modern and useful. Through modernisation, the company will be able to ramp up production to meet the domestic demand, as well as increase the export quantity of medicines.
Nasima Begum, a member of the Socio-Economic Infrastructure Division at the Bangladesh Planning Commission, said, "Aside from Dhaka's Tejgaon, Essential Drugs has plants in Gopalganj and Bogura. Established in 1983, the Tejgaon plant was built on 1.75 acres of land. Now the plant will be shifted to an 18 times larger area in Manikganj Sadar."
She said the demand for quality medicine is increasing with the rise of various new diseases. The plant will also produce Covid-19 vaccines in the future.
The Ecnec meeting approved 12 projects with an overall estimated cost of Tk12,016.88 crore.
Of the cost, Tk7,990.14 crore will be borne from government funds, while Tk594.43 crore will be drawn from funds of the organisations concerned and the rest Tk3,432.31 crore will come from external sources as foreign loans, the planning minister said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina attended the meeting from Ganabhaban while other Ecnec member ministers and secretaries from the NEC conference room in Sher-e-Bangla Nagar.
The planning minister said, at the meeting, that the prime minister directed the Ministry of Water Resources to carry out river protection works in a sustainable manner. She also emphasised on speedy implementation of the projects.
Among the 12 projects, 10 are fresh projects and the remaining two are revised projects, said Mannan.
The other projects approved in the meeting include- Urban Development and City Governance (UDCG), President Abdul Hamid Shilpakala Academy and Regional Cultural Centre, Mithamain, Kishoreganj; Bangladesh Oceanographic Research Institute (Phase II), and Irrigation Management Improvement (IMF) (For Muhuri Irrigation).