The government has given top priority to eight fast-track mega projects in the upcoming budget, setting aside Tk 18,727 crore for them.
For the first time, a special booklet titled “Mega Projects in Transforming Infrastructure: New Dimension in Accelerating Growth” was placed in parliament, along with the proposed budget.
The booklet outlined different aspects, financing and implementation of the “economy transforming projects” which will cost a total of Tk 161,268 crore.
The mega projects are the Padma bridge, metro rail, Rooppur nuclear power plant, Rampal power plant, Payra sea port, Matarbari power plant, Padma bridge rail link and Dohazari-Cox's Bazar-Gundum rail line.
However, no allocation was made for the two other fast-track projects -- Sonadia deep sea port and LNG terminal -- as they will be implemented on government-to-government (G2G) basis.
Apart from these growth-enhancing projects, the government plans to include three more projects in the list of mega projects. They are Matarbari coal terminal, Bhola gas pipeline, and petrochemical industry in coastal area.
Experts have welcomed the government initiative, saying it would speed up implementation of the priority projects.
Dr Shamsul Hoque, an infrastructure project specialist, said, “I welcome this move. This is an outstanding initiative. It will add a new dimension to project implementation.”
With this move, government monitoring on the projects would also be increased, said Shamsul, a professor at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet).
He said the government must not compromise on project quality while implementing them fast.
Referring to the publication of the special booklet and the huge allocation, Abdus Sobhan Sikder, former principal secretary to the Prime Minister's Office, said no such initiative was taken in the past.
Since 2013, a Fast Track Project Motoring Committee, headed by the prime minister, has been looking after the top priority projects.
Another committee, Fast Track Task Force led by the principal secretary to the PMO, is supervising those.
The government allocated Tk 6,026.48 crore for the project in the upcoming fiscal year, up by around 68 percent from that of the outgoing fiscal year.
An allocation of Tk 3,592 was made for the Tk 28,793 crore project in FY 2015-16.
Talking to this correspondent, Padma Bridge Project Director Shafiqul Islam said the volume of work in the project would increase significantly this year as additional money has been allocated for it.
He said 34 percent of the project work has already been completed.
The government wants to inaugurate the bridge by December 2018.
The bridge is being built with the government's own funds after the World Bank withdrew its $1.2 billion funding commitment over corruption allegations.
PADMA RAIL LINK
The government last month incorporated the Tk 34,989-crore Padma bridge rail track project in the list of fast-track project.
Under the project, a 172-km rail track would be built between Dhaka and Jessore.
Of the funds, the government will provide Tk 10,239 crore and China Tk 24,794 crore.
Once implemented, the Padma bridge and the Padma rail link would boost the country's economic growth by 1.5-1.75 percentage points, according to officials.
DOHAZARI-COX'S BAZAR-GUNDUM RAIL LINE
The country's largest railway project, taken up in July 2010, has seen only 2.1 percent progress.
Under the project, single-line dual gauge railway tracks would be built from Dohazari to Cox's Bazar via Ramu, and Ramu to Gundum near Myanmar.
The government hopes the project's implementation would gather momentum, as it is included in the list of fast-track projects and funds have been assured for it.
The Asian Development Bank will provide Tk 13,115 crore for the project, and the rest will come from government funds.
The time limit for the revised project has been extended to 2022.
The government plans to commission the Metro Rail Project [MRT line-6 from Uttara to Motijheel] ahead of its 2024 deadline. Work on the first part of the 20-km vital rapid transit project from Uttara North to Agargaon would be completed by 2019.
Work on the segment from Agargaon to Motijheel would be completed in December 2020.
Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) will provide Tk 16,594 crore for the project.
PAYRA SEA PORT
The government has allocated Tk 200 crore for the upcoming fiscal year for primary work of the project, which has 19 components.
Last week, the government signed the first memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the project with Belgian company Jan De Nul for capital and maintenance dredging involving an estimated $2 billion.
ROOPPUR NUCLEAR POWER PLANT
The first phase of the 2,400 megawatt nuclear power project has seen considerable progress since Bangladesh signed the project agreement with Russia in January 2013.
A company has been set up to run the plant.
The government wants to complete at least one unit of the project by 2018 while the deadline for its completion is 2023.
MATARBARI POWER PLANT
Land acquisition for the project has already been completed. Jica will provide Tk 28,939 crore for it.
RAMPAL POWER PROJECT
Work related to land development and construction of boundary walls in the 1,320MW project is almost finished. It was launched by a Bangladesh-India joint venture company in 2010.