Saving cultivable land: Govt going for eco-friendly Uni-Block in road construction
To protect cultivable land and save the environment, the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) in Natore has been using environment-friendly Uni-Block -- made of sand, cement and gravel -- for the development of rural roads as an alternative to bitumen and ordinary bricks.
This year, the LGED office started maintenance work of 7.5 km of five rural roads using the Uni-Block in the district, spending Tk 4.5 crore.
Of the five, a two km long road -- from Sultanpur to Awrail under Halsa union in Sadar upazila -- has already been completed. The authorities formally opened the road to people and vehicles last month.
This is the first rural road in the country, using Uni-Block instead of bitumen and bricks, said Md Shahidul Islam, executive engineer of Natore LGED.
According to the concerned officials, if the use of the eco-friendly Uni-Block in road and house construction increases, use of bricks can be stopped and cultivable land of the country can be saved.
The officials said road construction cost with the use of bitumen is around Tk 70 lakh per km while with Uni-Block, the cost is Tk 1.4 crore per km. However, the maintenance cost of bituminous road is Tk 30-35 lakh while that of Uni-Block road is Tk 10-15 lakh.
Shahidul Islam said the government has emphasized building rural roads and government houses with such bricks (Uni-block). This is why 10 percent of the rural roads this year are using Uni-Blocks. The pressure capacity of an ordinary brick is 17 MPa (megapascal) while the pressure capacity of a Uni-Block is 35 MPa.
To protect cultivable land and save the environment, the government wants to use 100% Uni-Block for rural road construction by 2024.
He said bituminous carpeting requires burning of pitch which causes environmental damage. "We cannot continue construction work with bitumen in the rainy season but it will be possible to continue the work through the use of Uni-Block."
The executive engineer said the roads constructed with bitumen get damaged due to rain or waterlogging but roads made with Uni-Block are sustainable in the case.
Even, the process of road construction or reconstruction with Uni-Block is also very simple.
The executive engineer said as soil or topsoil is being used to make brick, food production is declining. Brick kilns also burn large quantities of wood, destroying the environment.
Arshad Ali (75), of Awrail village, said the road with colourful Uni-Blocks is also very attractive. People from different areas come to their village to visit the road.
Construction contractor Md Swaib Hossain Masud said they have faced several problems during work. As Uni-Block is not made in Natore, they brought those from Narayanganj. Uni-Blocks should be available locally, he said.
He further said all roads should be upgraded with such environment-friendly material.