Prime minister Sheikh Hasina addresses the 13th ECNEC meeting of the current fiscal year that she joined virtually from her official Gonobhaban residence, Dhaka on 27 October 2020
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina addresses the 13th ECNEC meeting of the current fiscal year that she joined virtually from her official Gonobhaban residence, Dhaka on 27 October 2020PID

The government has approved a Tk 319.23 crore project to improve road safety, including traffic infrastructures development, as well as reducing traffic congestion in the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) areas.

The approval came from the 13th Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) meeting of the current fiscal year (FY21), held virtually with ECNEC chairperson and prime minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.

The prime minister joined the meeting from her official Gonobhaban residence through a videoconferencing while other ECNEC members were connected from the NEC Conference Room in the city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area.

“Three projects of two ministries were approved in today’s meeting. The total estimated cost of these three projects is Tk 5,189.69 crore,” said planning division senior secretary Md Ashadul Islam while briefing newspersons after the meeting.

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Among these, two are revised projects and the rest one is a fresh project, he said.

Of the total cost, Ashadul said Tk 2,270.76 will come as project assistance while the rest from the government of Bangladesh.

Speaking about the project titled ‘Road Safety including Improvement of Traffic Infrastructures in Dhaka North City Corporation Areas,’ planning commission member Md. Mamun-al-Rashid said the DNCC will implement the project by June 2023 with an estimated cost of Tk 319.23 crore.

The main objectives of the project include easing the movement of people and traffic, reducing traffic congestion, enhancing safety by improving the city’s thoroughfares in planned ways as well as construction of over bridges, development of existing over bridges, installing escalators with the over bridges in order to ensure safe movement of pedestrians.

The major project operations include development of 13.68-km road, construction of 9.05-km roadside drainage and 6.58-km pipe drainage, development of 26.58-km footpath, 7.74-km road median, installation of 22.77-km MS grill fencing, 22.31-km SS grill fencing and 1710 traffic signs, construction of 50 passenger camps and 36 new over bridges, development of 47 over bridges, and installation of 17 escalators with over bridges.

Talking about the reasons behind the rise in project cost, Mamun-Al-Rashid said the cost has been increased mainly for the land acquisition as the compensation against land value was made three times as per the Acquisition and Requisition of Immovable Property Act, 2017

Md Ashadul Islam said though it was proposed that DNCC will finance Tk 63.85 crore for the project, the prime minister directed to finance the project fully from the government’s fund.

The prime minister also asked the local government bodies, including city corporations, to enhance their capacity gradually to execute the development projects with their own revenues in future.

The day’s ECNEC meeting also cleared the first revision of ‘SASEC Road Connectivity Project-II: Elenga-Hatikamrul-Rangpur Highway Four-Lane Upgradation’ project increasing the cost by Tk 4763.37 crore and extending the timeframe till December 2024 instead of August 2021.

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The overall project cost has now increased to Tk 16,662.38 crore from the original outlay of Tk 11,899.01 crore, which was scheduled to be implemented from September 2015 to August 2021.

Talking about the reasons behind the rise in project cost, Mamun-Al-Rashid said the cost has been increased mainly for the land acquisition as the compensation against land value was made three times as per the Acquisition and Requisition of Immovable Property Act, 2017.

The cost against the land acquisition witnessed a rise by Tk 2,253.16 crore and that against the resettlement by Tk 226.70 crore.

The ECNEC also endorsed the 2nd revision of Development of Sonapur (Noakhali)-Sonagazi (Feni)-Zorargonj (Chattogram) Road Project, increasing the cost by Tk 107.09 core and extending the timeframe till June 2021.

The project cost has increased to Tk 293.05 crore from Tk 185.96 crore in the first revised one and Tk 172.65 crore in the original project.

According to the original project, the scheme was supposed to be executed from June 2015 to June 2018.

Mamun-Al-Rashid said the project cost has been raised also mainly for the rise in compensations against land acquisition.

About the prime minister’s directives issued in the ECNEC meeting, the planning division senior secretary said she asked the authorities concerned to be careful during construction of any road so that the usual water flow does not get hampered.

Describing the water bodies as ‘lifeline,’ the prime minister said there is a need to save water bodies particularly beels and haors as these protect the underground water level and the balance of nature.

Noting that the legal complexities often cause the delay in implementation of development projects in some cases, she asked the ministries concerned to take prompt measures to dispose of the legal cases related to the projects, if any.

Sheikh Hasina said if any project official is transferred before the completion of project, the new officer should get an orientation over the project so that the project implementation is not hampered.