The government has planned to give a facelift to religious and social institutions across the country in an apparent move to woo voters in the next national election.
Some 10,000 mosques, temples, play grounds, cremation grounds, graveyards, churches and pagodas are likely to be renovated and expanded under a social infrastructure improvement project being processed by the Planning Commission, sources said.
For the job, all the upazilas across the country will get Tk 1 crore each under the proposed project – a social sector scheme to be implemented for the first time by Local Government Engineering Department (LGED).
There might have been an intention of roping in general voters prior to the national elections due in late 2018 behind the populist move, officials linked to the project said, seeking anonymity.
But the project proposal claims that it seeks to ensure a congenial atmosphere in society with the scheme, as the government thinks social and psychological development of people a prerequisite to human resource development for a sustainable development.
LGED is expected to complete the project during July 2017 to June 2020 period at a cost of Tk 666 crore.
The Planning Commission, however, raised question about whether LGED has legal authority to implement such a social sector project although it has a vast experience in implementing rural infrastructure projects.
The project should seek prior consent from the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Youth and Sports, as it has religious and sports components, the commission said, adding that there should also be a feasibility study in the project document as decided.
The commission also recommended for estimating scheme-based cost for the project; instead of providing block allocation of Tk 1 crore for every upazila for ensuring transparency in project expenditure, commission officials said.
It thinks that the project should be implemented on a smaller scale as LGED does not have necessary experience in implementing such projects, a number of commission officials said, asking not to be quoted.
It also called for a policy for selection and execution of such projects, outlining scheme category, highest and lowest ceiling and scheme revision as well as monitoring process before placing the project at Ecnec meeting for final approval.
The commission also suggested dropping Tk 4.31 crore from the project cost estimated for buying 567 digital geographical positioning machines, Tk 12 crore for physical contingency and Tk 31.24 crore for price contingency.
Recommendation also came for dropping the proposal for buying 64 motorcycles as the component does not match with the project’s main activity.