12:00 AM, January 28, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 28, 2013

Fresh design in 6 months

PM vows to start construction of Padma Bridge within govt's tenure

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Staff Correspondent

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the government would start constructing the Padma bridge in its tenure even if the World Bank fund was not available.
"We've already asked the Bangladesh Army, Buet and Bridges Division to complete within six months a fresh design for the bridge,” Hasina said during a meeting of Awami League Parliamentary Party at the Jatiya Sangsad.
The construction would begin once the designing was done, meeting sources quoted her as saying.
The World Bank cancelled its $1.2 billion credit for the $2.9 billion project on June 29 last year, saying it had credible evidence of corruption conspiracy involving Bangladeshi officials, executives of a Canadian firm and some individuals.
The global lender maintains it will finance the project if former communications minister Syed Abul Hossain is included on the list of accused in the case filed over the corruption conspiracy.
At yesterday's meeting, the PM said when Abul Hossain was the communications minister, the local agent of Canadian firm SNC Lavalin met him.
Abul Hasan Chowdhury, former state minister for foreign affairs, was the local agent.
If it was corruption, Hasina said, it was the ex-state minister who should be held responsible.
Both Hasan and Hossain would be arrested if probe found something against them, AL MP Sadhan Chandra Majumder quoted Hasina as saying.
Earlier, the prime minister had said the government would look for alternative sources of funding if the World Bank did not give a decision by this month.
Hasina, also ruling Awami League chief, told her party deputies at the meeting that her government would get grants of $200 million and it had also received proposals from China and Malaysia, said AL MP Shahiduzzaman Sarker.
A source has told The Daily Star that $200m of $1 billion line of credit from India has been converted into grant. The government might use the money for Padma bridge construction.
About the next parliamentary election, the PM said it must be held by January 25 next year.
She reiterated the next parliamentary polls would be held the way other democratic countries arrange their national polls. He mentioned instances of elections in the US and the UK, said AL MP Israfil Alam.
Hasina also lauded the formation and functions of the current Election Commission, Israfil said, adding that she also urged the party lawmakers to make public the government's success stories.
About the upazila elections, she said polls to this local government bodies would be held after the parliamentary polls.
Warning her party MPs, Hasina said she had all the information about what lawmakers were doing in their areas. “MPs with bad records will not get nominations for the next polls."
She added, "We won't allow any questionable election. If any of my MPs tries to interfere, the election in that area will be stopped."
Sheikh Hasina asked the lawmakers to campaign drumming up public support for the ongoing war crimes trial .
A number of AL lawmakers, including Amir Hossain Amu, Tofail Ahmed, Suranjit Sengupta and Abdul Latif Siddiqui, urged the AL chief to take measures strengthening the party network across the country.
They said development activities are not enough to win the polls, meeting sources said.

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