Ecnec okays Karnaphuli tunnel project
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) today approved the much-hyped multilane road tunnel project under the Karnaphuli River involving Tk 8,446.64 crore.
The approval was given at the Ecnec meeting held at the NEC conference room with Ecnec Chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said a total of 12 projects were approved today with an estimated outlay of Tk 16,978.80 crore.
"Of the total project cost, Tk 11,725.19 crore will come from the national exchequer, Tk 4.92 crore from the organisation's own fund while Tk 5,248.69 crore from project assistance," he said.
The planning minister said the Karnaphuli tunnel project is a dream project of the government and it will ease connectivity with Chittagong and Cox's Bazar once implemented.
Out of the total cost of Tk 8,446.64 crore, he said, the government will provide Tk 3,647.20 crore while the rest of Tk 4,799.44 crore will come from China as project assistance.
According to a Planning Commission official, the project is part of a plan to strengthen the role of Chittagong as the centre of communications system, develop the communications system of Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox's Bazar national highway, create a link with the Asia Highway Network, improve the communications system on both sides of the Karnaphuli River, lessen the pressure of traffic over the two existing bridges, and build 'One City Two Town' in light with Sanghai of China and Hong Kong.
Bangladesh Bridges Authority under the road transport and bridges ministry will implement the project by June 2020.
Earlier in June, the ministry signed a deal with a Chinese firm, 'China Communication Construction Company Ltd (CCCC)', for the construction of a two-lane tunnel under the Karnaphuli River.
According to the official, the length of the proposed tunnel will be 3.40 kilometres with an approach road of 4.89 kilometres alongside 800 metres of bridges linking the main city, port and western side of the Karnaphuli along with the heavy industry-prone eastern side of the river.
The tunnel is also considered essential because heavy siltation on the Karnaphuli River bed has been a main problem for proper functioning of Chittagong Port and also for building new bridges. The tunnel will also create scopes for establishing newer industries on the eastern side of the river.
The tunnel could later be linked with the proposed Asian Highway Network, which is supposed to establish road communications with neighbouring Myanmar and India.
Another official at the Planning Commission said the Bangladesh Bridges Authority with support from the China Communication Construction Company Ltd (CCCC) and Ove Arup and Partners Hong Kong Limited jointly conducted a technical and financial feasibility study for constructing the tunnel.
Initially, the project cost was estimated at Tk 5,600 crore, but following the Pre-Evaluation Committee (PEC) meeting on March 22 this year, the DPP was restructured with an estimated cost of Tk 8446.64 crore.
The location of the tunnel will be at the estuary of the river for having connectivity of Chittagong city with the proposed deep-sea port and Cox's Bazar, the tourist town along the Bay of Bengal.
The multilane tunnel route will pass through the river close to Navy College on one side and Korean Export Processing Zone (KEPZ) and Karnaphuli Fertiliser Company (Kafco) on the other.
The tunnel will cut the road distance between Chittagong and Cox's Bazar, apart from facilitating the heavy traffic on Dhaka-Chittagong Highway entering the port city to go to other parts of Chittagong division.
The Ecnec meeting also approved a project titled 'Establishment of National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery, Dhaka' with Tk 522.39 crore under which the National Burn and Plastic Surgery Institute will be set up at Chankharpul in Dhaka as a centre of excellence. The Department of Health under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will implement the project by December 2018.
The planning minister said that the government is planning to set up 100 special economic zones in the country and once those are set up, employment opportunities for some one crore people would be created which would also boost the country's export earnings by another $ 44 billion.
The other projects approved at the meeting are road turn straightening on Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox's Bazar Highway to Chakrashala (Tk 74.31 cr), construction of administrative building and sailors barrack for three coast guard stations project (Tk 35.74 cr), development and expansion of water supply system at Khulna city (Tk 33.48 cr), development of selected private colleges through the support of ICT (1st revised) (Tk 5,547.74 cr), establishment of 40 technical training centers in 40 upazilas and one institute of marine technology in Chittagong (Tk 1,331.30 cr), development of infrastructural facilities at Khulna Engineering and Technology University (1st revised) (Tk 122.98 cr), Bangladesh Economic Zone-1st phase (1st revised) (Tk 122.34 cr), Establishment of Pre-paid E meters at Dhaka Divisional zone under the Rural Electrification Board (Tk 436.45 cr), ensuring power supply at the remote areas of Chittagong Hill Tracts through establishment of solar panels (Tk 40 cr) and expanding artificial breeding programme and implementation of sperm transfer technology (3rd phase) (Tk 265.43 cr).
Ministers and state ministers attended the meeting. Planning Commission members and secretaries concerned were present.