The government yesterday allocated Tk 41,241 crore for having a better rail and road connectivity between the capital and the southern part of the country to reap the maximum benefit from the Padma Bridge Project.
Of the amount, Tk 16,492 crore will come from the public exchequer and the rest will be financed by a government-to-government (G2G) loan from China.
Once implemented, the projects would boost the country's economic growth by 1.5 to 1.75 percentage points, according to Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved the construction of the 172-km Padma Bridge Rail Link Project involving Tk 34,989 crore and the 55-km Dhaka-Bhanga Four-Lane Project involving Tk 6,252 crore.
In order to ensure quick implementation of the rail link project, the government included it in the list of fast track projects directly supervised by the prime minister.
The project would be implemented by 2022.
A portion of the rail line will be completed by 2018 so that people can use Padma bridge by both road and rail. The government plans to open the bridge to public in December 2018.
The approval of the rail link project came 17 months after the start of construction of the Tk 28,793-crore Padma Bridge Project.
In January last year, Bangladesh Railway signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China Railway Group Ltd which will finance Tk 24,749 crore. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the deal in March this year.
“You will see a new Bangladesh once the three projects [Padma bridge, rail link and four-lane projects] are implemented,” Kamal told reporters after the Ecnec meeting.
RAIL LINK PROJECT
The project is divided into four segments -- Dhaka-Gendaria, Gendaria-Mawa, Mawa-Bhanga and Bhanga-Jessore rail tracks.
The government made it a top priority to lay the rail track from Mawa to Bhanga in Faridpur so that people can use it from the day the Padma bridge is inaugurated.
Once the track is set up, the bridge will be connected with the existing Bhanga-Faridpur-Paturia-Rajbari rail route.
The remaining segments of the project would be completed in four and a half years.
Bangladesh Army, along with BRTC and Buet, would be appointed as construction supervision consultant for acquiring land and implementing the resettlement plan quickly.
The rail line will connect Chittagong and Cox's Bazar with Kolkata, Myanmar and China in the future and help create a railway corridor between Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar, according to project documents.
The track will go through seven districts of Dhaka division -- Dhaka, Narayanganj, Munshiganj, Shariatpur, Madaripur, Faridpur and Gopalganj -- and two districts of Khulna division --Narail and Jessore.
It will later be stretched to Payra seaport in Patuakhali.
The track will be the most important rail corridor in the country in terms of passenger and goods transportation and help increase internal and regional trade and foreign investment in the country, say the documents.
The Dhaka-Jessore rail line via Mawa has been included in Trans-Asian Railway network as a sub-route.
To ensure smooth vehicular movement on the Padma bridge, the 55-km road from Dhaka to Bhanga via Mawa will be widened to four lanes from two lanes.
The road transport and bridges ministry already gave the task to the army. The deadline for implementing the project is 2019.
Special Works Organisation of the army has prepared the Development Project Pro-forma (DPP) and taken initiative to implement the project.
Replying to a query on high project costs, the planning minister told reporters that the price of land is very high in Bangladesh, and this was the reason behind the rise in project costs.
The costs were approved after they had been reviewed by a third party, he said.