Padma Bridge Rail Link: Soaring land prices jacking up cost
12:00 AM, May 23, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:58 AM, May 23, 2018

Padma Bridge Rail Link: Soaring land prices jacking up cost

The cost of the Padma Bridge rail link, the construction of which is yet to start in full swing, has gone up by Tk 4,269 crore due to escalating land acquisition expenditure and delay in project implementation.

The original cost of the project was Tk 34,989 crore and now it stands at Tk 39,258 crore, a 12 percent hike.

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) yesterday approved the revised project and two years more time for completing it. Now it has to be finished by June 2024.

The cost increased as the cost of land acquisition rose, said Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal at a press briefing after the Ecnec meeting.

Land was not available at the price first estimated, he added.

The revised project documents show that now Tk 6,224 crore has been allocated for acquiring 1,786 acres. Originally, Tk 2,853 crore had been earmarked for 1,700 acres.

Due to the delayed start of the project, the cost of construction also went up by Tk 959 crore.

The Ecnec had approved the project in May 2016 but the loan agreement with China was delayed causing late start to the project.

Late last month, the Economic Relations Division (ERD) signed a Tk 21,036 crore equivalent loan agreement with Exim Bank of China.

The railway ministry earlier this month at a press conference said the government was going to start construction in a month.

Under the project, a double rail line would be built from Dhaka to Jessore and 23km of it would be elevated.

The project would bring four districts -- Munshiganj, Shariatpur, Madaripur and Narail -- under the coverage of the railway network.

Now, it takes more than nine hours to travel the 412km from Dhaka to Khulna but once the project is done, the distance would be reduced to 213km and it would take four hours.

The Ecnec yesterday also approved 16 other projects that cost Tk 96,235 crore in total and Tk 43,221 crore of it would be foreign funds.

The Fourth Primary Education Development (PED) programme alone would cost Tk 44,654 crore, of which Tk 12,805 crore would be from 10 development partners, including the World Bank, ADB, and Jica.

Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said when the project was approved, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued some directives, including teaching primary students Bangla, English, and another language and lessons on traffic rules.

The council yesterday approved an 800-megawatt combined cycle power plant at Khulna's Rupsha that would cost Tk 8,498 crore. Three development partners, including the ADB, would finance Tk 5,987 crore.

The Ecnec also approved Tk 848 crore for the construction of a 52km walkway beside the 120km circular waterway around Dhaka. Earlier, 20km of walkway was built under the first phase of the project.

The Dhaka Wasa would develop canals to solve the capital's waterlogging problem spending Tk 550 crore approved by the Ecnec yesterday.

The project is, however, scheduled to be completed by June 2021 and it would bring no respite for city residents this monsoon.

The Ecnec also approved a shipping ministry project for the development of Ashuganj container terminal port at a cost of Tk 1,293 crore.

The original project was taken up in 2011 with an estimated cost of Tk 245 crore with India footing a portion of the bill but yesterday the Ecnec cancelled the earlier project and approved as a fresh one where the cost increased about five times.

A planning ministry official said the project had earlier been taken up without detailed feasibility study and the real cost was not reflected.

India would now provide Tk 431 crore from its second line of credit.

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