Padma Bridge: Cost rises again
12:00 AM, June 22, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:57 AM, June 22, 2018

Padma Bridge: Cost rises again

Ecnec approves additional Tk 1,400 crore as the project needs acquisition of more land

The cost of the Padma Bridge project has gone up by Tk 1,400 crore to Tk 30,193 crore as the government has to acquire more land.

This is the third time the project cost has increased.

The Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) yesterday approved the additional fund for the project.

As per the planning ministry's last revision in January last year, the total cost stood at Tk 28,793 crore.

Emerging from the Ecnec meeting, Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal told reporters that more land is needed to dump earth collected from excavation of the river bed for river training.

In reply to a query, the minister said the cost of the bridge project would not go up further.

As per documents prepared by the Bridges Division last year, the government was to acquire 1,530 hectares of land at a cost of Tk 1,299 crore for the bridge project.

But now a total of 2,693 hectares of land need to be acquired for the project for Tk 2,699 crore, said the planning ministry's latest proposal.

The project, when approved in 2007, was supposed to cost Tk 10,162 crore, but in 2011 it was revised upwards to Tk 20,507 crore.

The project is expected to be completed by this year.

Sources at the Bridges Division said 53 percent work of the project was completed till March.

Construction of the main bridge, and river training are two major components of the project. So far, 59 percent work of the main bridge and 36.5 percent of river training have been completed.

Yesterday, the Ecnec also approved the project “Introduction of E-Passport and Automatic Border Control System in Bangladesh” at a cost of Tk 4,636 crore.

It will be implemented by the Department of Immigration and Passports between July this year and June 2028.

The planning minister told reporters that Machine-Readable Passport (MRP) will remain valid, but e-passports will also be issued at the same time.

Preparatory work of the project will start next month, he mentioned.

Asked about the MRPs that citizens are currently using, Maj Gen Md Masud Rezwan, director general of the passports department, said e-passports would gradually replace MRPs.

People having MRPs will be able to use it until its validity expires. They will be given e-passports at the time of renewal, he told The Daily Star on Wednesday.

Officials said e-passport system would increase security and accessibility of Bangladeshi passports worldwide.

Such passports, also known as biometric or digital passports, have embedded electronic microprocessor chips with biometric information authenticating the identity of the holders.

Passport officials said the size of e-passport would be the same as the current MRPs. However, the two pages with the passport holder's details, which now appear in the beginning, would be replaced by a polymer card embedded with a chip containing the passport holder's personal information.

Under the project, 2.80 crore e-passport booklets will be produced in the country, and 20 lakh will be imported.

Around 120 countries have already introduced e-passports. The UK, the US, Australia, Canada and Malaysia introduced them almost a decade ago.

Yesterday, the Ecnec also approved 13 other projects involving Tk 12,336 crore.

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