The government on Tuesday approved a project involving
Tk 34,989 crore to establish a rail link between Dhaka and Jessore through the Padma Bridge to drastically cut the travel time between the capital and the country’s Southwestern part.
A 172 km broad gauge rail track with four sections will be laid down under the scheme, which will cut Dhaka-Khulna distance by 212 km and the travel time by nearly 7 hours to only 3.5 hours.
The new rail track is expected to improve the transport system and the socio-economic condition in south and southwestern parts significantly as it will link a number of new districts under railway coverage.
The approval for the ‘Padma Bridge rail link’ project came at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) held with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
The project’s completion period is June 2022. But the government seeks to complete the Dhaka-Gandaria-Mawa-Padma Bridge-Bhanga Junction section by 2018 to ensure rail connectivity though Padma Bridge simultaneously with road link, Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal told journalists.
The government is taking Tk 24,749 core Chinese loan for the project, while Tk 10,239.81 crore will be borne form state coffer, Kamal informed.
Earlier, the Planning Commission sent back the project to the railways ministry citing high cost of the project. The project has now been cleared after getting the report of an independent consultant who was appointed in early last month to review the cost.
Replying to a project cost related question, Kamal said the land acquisition would be the main reason for such a high cost, adding that land cost is much higher in Bangladesh compared to those in countries like Thailand and Myanmar. The Padma Bridge Rail Link project has already been included in the list of government’s fast-track projects. Bangladesh Army in association with BRTC and BUET will be the EPC for the project.
The railway track will go through seven districts in Dhaka division, including Dhaka, Narayanganj, Munshiganj, Shariatpur, Madaripur, Faridpur and Gopalganj and two districts in Khulna division, including Narail and Jessore. Munshiganj, Shariatpur, Madaripur and Narail will come under rail network for the first time through the proposed rail track.
The Planning Minister said the Padma Bridge Rail Link will also reduce the distance between Dhaka and Jessore; and Dhaka and Darshana by 184.72 km, and 44.24 km respectively as well as connecting Mongla and Benapole ports.
Apart from the rail link project, the ECNEC also cleared the four-lane road development project (Jatrabari intersection to Mawa via Iquria-Babubazar link road and separate lane for slow driven vehicle in Pachchar-Bhanga section) involving Tk 6,252 crore.
The ECNEC meeting gave nod to a total of nine projects involving Tk 44,167.14 crore of which Tk 24,749.05 crore will come as project assistance Tk 19,265.85 crore from the national exchequer and Tk 152.24 crore will be borne by an implementing organisation.
The other approved projects are: road widening from Ramnagar crossroad to Abalpur in Magura town on National Highway N-7 of Tk 91.94cr, power distribution system development project, Sylhet of Tk 1,890.85cr, construction of multipurpose cyclone shelter (2nd phase) in coastal and cyclone prone areas of Tk 533.16cr, checking and control of animal diseases of Tk 77.49cr, Uddyantattik crops research strengthening and technology expansion of field crops in char areas of Tk 70.56cr, further infrastructure development of Khulna university of Tk 188.44cr and 1000 kilowatt medium wave transmitter of Bangladesh Betar of Tk 73.55cr.