ECNEC chairperson and prime minister Sheikh Hasina chairs the ECNEC meeting virtually from her official Gonobhaban residence, Dhaka
ECNEC chairperson and prime minister Sheikh Hasina chairs the ECNEC meeting virtually from her official Gonobhaban residence, DhakaFile photo

The government on Tuesday approved over Tk 59.05 billion (5,905.59 crore) project to conserve the rural road network system by rehabilitating the roads, bridges and culverts affected due to cyclone Amphan, excessive rain and the recent flood.

The approval came from the 15th ECNEC meeting of the current fiscal year (FY21) which was also the 48th ECNEC meeting of the current government.

ECNEC chairperson and prime minister Sheikh Hasina presided over the meeting virtually from her official Gonobhaban residence. Concerned ministers, state ministers and secretaries joined the meeting from the NEC Conference Room in the city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area.

Briefing newspersons after the meeting virtually, planning division senior secretary Md Ashadul Islam informed that the ECNEC meeting has approved a total of five projects, involving an overall estimated cost of Tk 7,505.29 crore.

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Revealing the details of the project, planning commission member Md Zakir Hossain Akand said that the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) under the local government division will implement the project titled “Rehabilitation of rural road infrastructures affected due to cyclone Amphan and Flood” with an estimated cost of Tk 5,905.59 crore with entire government fund by December 2023.

“The project will be implemented at 355 upazilas in 55 districts of the country,” he said.

Zakir, member of the agriculture, water resources and rural institutions division of the planning commission, said considering the extent of damages caused by the cyclone Amphan and the recent flood, the project has been formulated to rehabilitate the affected rural roads, culverts and bridges.

The project aims to reduce the transportation cost and time through ensuring a sustainable road maintenance system, simplifying the marketing system of various produces, generating more rural employments and thus keeping the rural economy operational.

The project area covers cyclone Amphan affected 69 upazilas in 14 districts of Khulna, Barishal, Chattogram and Dhaka divisions, flood affected 182 upazilas in 28 districts of Rangpur, Rajshahi, Khulna, Dhaka, Mymensingh, Sylhet and Chattogram divisions.

The project area also covers 139 upazilas in 22 districts of Rajshahi, Khulna, Dhaka, Mymensingh and Chattogram divisions that were affected due to excessive rain.

The main project operations include rehabilitation of round 2388.34 km upazila roads, rehabilitation of 2274.68 km union roads, rehabilitation of 78km RCC roads, reconstruction of some 268 bridges with a cumulative length of 4631.85 metre, reconstruction of some 239 culverts with a cumulative length of 692.37 metre and tree plantation along 328 km roads.

There will be construction of some 5,000km upazila Roads, some 8,000km union roads and 12,000km rural roads as well as construction of 1,40,000 metre bridges and culverts on upazila and union roads. Apart from this, there will be construction of 50,000 metre bridges and culverts on village roads.

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Planning division senior secretary Md Ashadul Islam said that prime minister Sheikh Hasina in the meeting asked the authorities concerned to complete the works of cyclone Amphan affected roads speedily in coordination with other ministries and divisions so that there is no overlapping of works.

The meeting also approved a project for protecting Gobindi and Holdia areas in Saghata upazila and Katalmari area in Fulchori upazila of Gaibandha district from the erosion on the right embankment of river Jamuna with Tk 798.53 crore.

The planning division senior secretary said the prime minister in the meeting stressed that the main strategy for checking river erosion should be maintaining the usual flow of water and also keeping operational the river channel through conducting capital dredging and thus maintenance dredging.

Ashadul said the prime minister once again underscored the need for identifying the sandbanks (dubo chars) in the rivers and thus removing those through dredging as well as creating buffer zones for preserving water.

She also asked the concerned ministries to keep an eye so that siltation does not block the usual flow of river.

Regarding the first revision of the Important Rural Infrastructures Development Project: Barishal, Jhalakathi and Pirojpur districts with an additional cost of Tk 305 crore, Ashadul said the prime minister directed the concerned ministries including the Local Government Division to give special attention so that the quality of work is ensured, the quality of bitumen in road construction and maintenance remains high and thus ensure that water could not remain for long time on roads.

He said Sheikh Hasina also directed for preparing a master plan for the rural roads and infrastructures with the Local Government Division as the lead division.

The two other projects approved in the meeting are Waste System Development of Khulna City Corporation with Tk 393.40 crore and the first revision of Construction of Sheikh Hasina Sangskritik Palli with an additional cost of Tk 102.77 crore.