Project cost rises manifold
The quest to transform the Ashuganj container terminal port into a world-class one has become more expensive for the government, with the shipping ministry now placing a fresh Tk 1,293 crore proposal -- exponentially more than the original project.
The proposal will be placed in today's meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council.
The original project was taken up in 2011 with an estimated cost of Tk 245 crore, with India footing a portion of the amount committed from its first line of credit.
But due to complexities in land acquisition and a lack of detailed feasibility study the neighbouring backed out from the project.
Later, WAPCOS, an Indian water and power consultancy firm, made a detailed feasibility study and came up with a design, based on which the shipping ministry sent a proposal of Tk 831 crore for the project.
India would provide Tk 431 crore from its second line of credit.
But in October last year, the shipping ministry sought an additional Tk 431 crore after land acquisition costs increased.
The additional Tk 431 crore will have to be borne by Bangladesh, meaning the country will now have to bear two-thirds of the project cost. The project is expected to be complete by December 2021.
India is particularly interested in developing the Ashuganj port as it has designs to transport goods through the port to its seven sister states. The neighbouring country has also committed to financing a four-lane road from the port to Akhaura.
The Ashuganj port will not only facilitate transshipment between India and Bangladesh but will also play an important role in expansion of trade in most of the parts of Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet, according to the planning ministry proposal.
As per the agreement between Bangladesh and India, Indian goods from Kolkata will arrive at the Ashuganj port through river routes. From there, Bangladeshi trucks or trailers will carry them to Agartala.
As per primary estimates, 4 lakh twenty-foot equivalent units of containers will be transported through the river route every year.