Padma bridge cost to rise again
The cost of the much-hyped Padma Bridge project is going to increase again as the government has to spend more to acquire additional land, taking the total project cost to Tk 30,193 crore.
The Bridges Division, the implementing authority of the project, recently sent a proposal to the planning ministry to acquire 1,163 hectares of land at a cost of Tk 1,400 core, said planning ministry officials.
The proposal may be placed before the next meeting of Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC), they added.
As per the last revision in January 2016, total project cost was Tk 28,793 crore.
According to officials, the proposal for acquiring more land will be approved as a single project. The increased amount will be added to the total cost of the project when the entire Padma Bridge project will go through revision.
Sources said the road transport and bridges ministry sent a DO (demand order) letter to the planning ministry on April 9, detailing the revision proposal.
As per the letter, around 212 crore cubic feet dredging spoil has to be dumped due to river training along the bank of the Padma. The char area of the river is suitable for disposing of the spoil in an environment-friendly way.
Although chars were picked as a suitable place for dumping when the design of the bridge was prepared, the cost of the char land was not included in DPP considering the land as khas land, the DO letter reads.
The district administration later declared the land as private property and that is why it has to be acquired. Besides, the Padma witnessed erosion on the Mawa side while new chars formed on the Jajira side.
As per the last revision in 2016, the authorities had decided to acquire 1,530 hectares for Tk 1,299 crore. The latest proposal says a total of 2,693 hectares will be acquired at a cost of 2,699 crore.
According to the Bridges Division proposal, a feasibility study on the project was conducted with assistance from JICA during 2003 to 2005. The original cost was estimated in 2007 on the basis of the study. However, it did not include the cost of railway lines on the bridge.
With financing from Asian Development Bank, the work on a detailed design of the bridge had started in 2009. Based on that, the project cost was revised at the end of 2010.
The cost almost doubled to Tk 20,507 crore when the first revision was done in 2011, including the cost of the railway lines.
According to the first revision, the project was scheduled to be completed in 2015. The deadline for completion of the project has been extended to 2018.
Fifty-three percent work of the project has been completed till March, said sources at Bridges Division.
Two major components of the project are main bridge and river training. Of them, 59 percent work of the main bridge and 36.5 percent of the river training have been completed.
The project is running behind schedule as the World Bank withdrew its $1.2 billion loan in 2012 over allegations of corruption conspiracies. The government then moved to build the bridge with its own funds.