The process of signing a loan agreement with China to implement the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project is underway, Railways Minister Mazibul Hoque told the Jatiya Sangsad yesterday.
In reply to lawmakers' queries, he said work on the physical infrastructure of the project would begin once the deal was inked.
In a scripted reply, Mazibul also said the government took up the project to construct the rail tracks from Dhaka to Jessore via Padma Bridge-Bhanga of Faridpur.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed with China Railway Group Ltd on January 28 in 2015 to execute the G-to-G project to be financed by the Chinese government, he told the House.
The minister said contract negotiation was completed on December 17, 2015.
The land acquisition process in two districts was already completed, while the process of land acquisition was going on in four other districts, he added.
In reply to another query, the minister told parliament that a total of 3,752 acres of land of Bangladesh Railway was under illegal occupation.
"Bangladesh Railway has recovered its 169 acres of grabbed land between July 2016 and May 2017,” he mentioned in a scripted answer.
Removing illegal structures on the grabbed land is a continuous process, and the railways ministry is conducting regular drive to recover the land, he added.
Answering to another query, he said 10,843 acres of railway's land remain unused at present.
He added that the railways ministry planned to build modern hospitals, medical colleges, five-star hotel-slash-commercial buildings, multi-storey shopping mall-slash-guesthouses on its unused land.
“Steps are being taken to construct such structures under a public-private partnership,” he added.
The minister also said initiatives were on to build a five-star hotel on Zakir Hossain Road in Chittagong, a medical college and a nursing institute, Chittagong Railway Hospital and shopping complex-slash-guesthouses in Chittagong and Khulna on railway's unused land.