The government will build a 217-kilometre double rail line from Khulna to Darshana with an aim to boost trade activities with Nepal and Bhutan using the Mongla port.
At yesterday's meeting of the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC), the Tk 3506 crore project for building the double rail line, alongside the existing single line, was approved. India will provide 77 percent of the total cost as loan.
The planning ministry proposal said the project aims to meet the demands of national, regional and international traffic by increasing transportability through Dhaka-Khulna and Khulna-Chilahati corridor of Bangladesh Railway, by removing existing limitations.
Following the meeting, minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said, after the Padma Bridge is completed, the rail line will be more important.
According to the planning ministry, after the rail line is set up through establishing rail connectivity with India, Nepal and Bhutan, the land-locked countries will have better access for trade.
At present, a 43 kilometre new rail line is being set up from Khulna to Mongla port with Indian soft loan, on completion of which direct rail connectivity with Mongla will be established with the neighbouring countries alongside local routes.
A planning ministry official said it would ease pressure on Chittagong port. The planning ministry proposal said the initiative is being taken to set up oil-based quick rental plants at Bheramara, Shantahar, Bangabandhu Bridge west station, Faridpur, Thakurgaon and Rangpur. When the new rail line is established, it will make fast transportation of fuel to Mongla easier.
Ecnec yesterday revised another project to upgrade the 70-kilometre Joydevpur-Chandra to Elenga road to four lane, which would ease connectivity of Dhaka with North Bengal through Bangabandhu Jamuna Bridge.
The project was initiated in April 2013 to improve road communication between Bangladesh and neighbouring countries, and was scheduled to be completed by 2018. In the second revision, the deadline has been extended to 2020 and the cost has been estimated at Tk 5,593 crore which was originally Tk 2,788 crore. In the first revision the cost was estimated at Tk 3,066 crore.
Of the Tk 5,593 crore, three donor agencies including Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide Tk 3,420 crore.
About the cost and delay, the planning minister said if there is an obstacle to implementation of a project, the government can easily address it. But when the obstacles are many it becomes difficult to manage them all.
Stones are required for construction of roads. Due to a pending case at the Indian court, the import of stones has been stalled, for which the government was not prepared, the planning minister said. He added that the number of components of the projects has also increased. Due to these reasons the cost has gone up.
The planning ministry proposal said that the construction cost has increased as the project has been delayed.
In the second revision, the government fund has increased by 43 percent and foreign fund by 85 percent.
Ecnec approved 14 projects, including the two, at a total cost of Tk 14,424 crore at the meeting.
Another major project is reconstruction of iron bridges in the southern region at a cost of Tk 1,835 crore.