Covid Fallout on Fast-Track Projects: Some coping better than others | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 03, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:17 AM, March 03, 2021

Covid Fallout on Fast-Track Projects: Some coping better than others

ADP allocation for 3 projects increase while three others see cuts

Annual allocations for four of the seven ADP-funded first-track projects have either increased or remained the same, a sign that those are coping well with the pandemic fallout.

Allocations for the three other projects, including that of the Padma bridge and the Rooppur nuclear power plant, have been slashed significantly in the government's revised annual development programme (ADP).

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Padma Bridge Rail Link Project, which made headlines recently after its Chinese contractor alleged fund crisis, got around 50 percent more than the original allocation for the current fiscal year.

The National Economic Council, presided over by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, yesterday approved the revised ADP.

Apart from the rail link project, allocations for the Matarbari 1,200MW coal-fired power plant and the Payra Deep-sea Port have been increased.

The allocation for the Mass Rapid Transit Line-6 (MRT-6), under which the country's first ever metro rail is being built, remained the same, according to documents.

Apart from the Padma bridge and the Rooppur power plant projects, the allocation for Chattogram-Cox's Bazar Rail Line was also reduced.

The eighth fast-track project, Rampal Power Plan, is not being funded by the ADP.

Most of the projects are running behind schedule largely due to uncertainty over funding, the Gulshan cafe attack in 2016, complexity over designs, planning, and land acquisition.

When the project got momentum after most of the complexities were addressed, the pandemic slowed down work. Work on most projects remained almost halted for several months last year.

Various studies show that the country's GDP would increase by 3 to 4 percent when all these projects are complete.

ADP REVISION

Bangladesh Railway (BR) is implementing the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project to connect the capital to Jashore with a 169km rail line over the under-construction Padma bridge at a cost of Tk 39,246 crore.

China Railway Group Ltd, the contractor for the biggest project of BR, issued a press statement on February 24 alleging that it had not been paid for work done in the last seven months and this was slowing down project implementation.

The contractor claimed that the government owes it $400 million and the payment delay rendered it unable to buy sufficient construction materials and pay subcontractors and suppliers timely.

The project authorities itself told a railway meeting on February 9 that they were facing fund problems. They sought Tk 1,801.14 crore from the ADP on November 25 but did not get it as of February 9, read BR documents.

According to the revised ADP documents, the annual allocation for the project was Tk 3,684.36 crore but it has been revised to Tk 5,454.86 crore.

Contacted, Project Director Golam Fakhruddin Ahmed Chowdhury said the revised allocation would help them overcome the situation.

"Actually, we wanted to speed up the project work. So we need more allocation," he said.

Padma Bridge Rail Link project witnessed 37.39 percent overall progress until January.

The Tk 35,984 crore Matarbari power plant is scheduled to be completed by 2023. The original ADP allocation of Tk 3,672 crore for the project was revised to Tk 4,200 crore.

Another project that got additional allocation is the Payra Deep-sea Port project. The original allocation for the project this fiscal year was Tk 700 crore but it would now get Tk 1,151.67 crore.

After the first revision, the project cost rose to Tk 4,516.75 crore and completion deadline was re-fixed to June 2023, one and half years more than the original.

While approving the revision on February 16, the PM directed Payra Port Authority (PPA), the implementing agency, to prepare a detailed work plan involving the government's development agenda.

Allocation for the 2,400MW Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, the biggest single project which is worth Tk 1,13,092 crore, witnessed significant reduction.

The project would now get Tk 10,166.78 crore this fiscal, which is Tk 5,524.35 crore less than the original allocation.

The power plant project made 34.34 percent progress until December last year.

Annual allocation for Padma bridge reduced to Tk 2,099.93 crore. The original allocation was Tk 5,000 crore.

Apart from the pandemic, the much-hyped project faced huge challenge due to strong currents in the Padma river. No span could not be installed for around four months due to this, officials said.

However, installation of the all spans were completed in December last year and the bridge is expected to be opened to the public in June next year.

The overall implementation progress of the project is 84 percent as of January.

Allocation for the Chattagram-Cox's Bazar rail line project was cut to Tk 990 crore from the original Tk 1,500 crore.

Project work suffered delays due to the pandemic, that's why the funds could not be utilised, a project official said.

The project has seen 49 percent progress as of January.

The MRT-6, an elevated metro rail from Uttara third phase to Motijheel, saw 56.94 percent overall progress made as of January.

Annual allocation for the project, Tk 5542.83 crore, remained unchanged.

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