Govt to expand dev scheme for ex-enclaves

Hasibul Aman

20 October, 2019 12:00 AM printer

The government has moved to expand the ongoing scheme designed to improve infrastructures in now-defunct enclaves in the country’s northern regions.

The initiative comes as part of the government’s enhanced focus on improving lives and livelihood of people living in former enclaves, official sources said.

After completion of the exchange of enclaves in late 2015 between Bangladesh and India, the government launched a project called ‘Rural Infrastructure (of abolished enclaves) development in Panchagarh, Kurigram and Lalmonirhat districts.

The project was undertaken at an estimated cost of Tk 180.59 crore with a completion deadline between December 2015 and June 2018.

It was approved by Ecnec in early January 2016. Later, LGRD & Cooperatives minister extended the deadline up to June 2018 without hiking the project cost.  

However, the project could not be implemented within the stipulated timeframe as the areas are remote and communications facility is very poor, Local Government Division, the implementing agency, argued.

Now, the project has been sent to the Planning Commission for a fresh revision to extend the deadline up to June 2020 and hike the project cost to Tk 225 crore to accommodate new components.

The former enclave people have been deprived of different civic, social and religious facilities for long 44 years. It was the first initiative to improve their living standard.

For extending the project time, the implementing agency said they could not finish the work as the internal road network is very poor in the project areas, which are very remote and located on the borders.

Even though there was a proposal for improving a complete road network in the original and first revised project proposals, constructing a full-fledged could not still be possible.

In the original project proposal, there was a provision for constructing over 210km roads, 725.63 metres bridge, culverts, six community centres, six temples, six ghats, three cremation centres, two graveyards, excavating or re-excavating 3km canal.

But under the present project, the initiative was taken to build only important roads because the areas were detached from the mainland, which barred construction of a proper road network.

At present construction of some link road has become necessary to establish a proper road network in the lagging areas.

“For completing the road network, constructing some new social infrastructure and completing the unfinished work, the project revision proposal has been placed,” the implementing agency said.

Of the 15 mosques, work of 13 has been completed and two are ongoing while five out of six temples have been complete.  Local government division has proposed fresh project revision to include nine more mosques, three temples, two graveyards and a cremation centres in the scheme to set up these structures in areas lacking these.

Regarding the project cost hike, the implementing agency said the original project cost was estimated in line with LGED’s 2015-16 rate schedule.

Usually, LGED’s rate schedule changes according to market prices during July every year, official sources said. Until June this year, the project saw 94.67 per cent financial progress with nearly Tk 171 crore spending while physical work advanced 94.68 per cent.