Prime minister Sheikh Hasina chairs the ECNEC meeting virtually from her official Gonobhaban residence, Dhaka on 22 September 2020
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina chairs the ECNEC meeting virtually from her official Gonobhaban residence, Dhaka on 22 September 2020PID

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) on Tuesday approved five projects involving an overall estimated cost of Tk 1,266.13 crore, including one for development and management of Hilsha resources with Tk 246.28 crore.

The approval came from the 9th ECNEC meeting of the current fiscal year (FY21) held with ECNEC chairperson and prime minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.

The prime minister joined the meeting virtually from her official Gonobhaban residence in the capital while the ministers, state ministers and others concerned attended the meeting from the NEC Conference Room in the city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area.

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Briefing the newspersons after the meeting, planning minister Abdul Mannan said, “A total of five projects were approved today involving an overall estimated cost of Tk 246.28 crore to be entirely borne from the state exchequer.”

Of the approved five projects, four are new while one is a revised project.

The fisheries department of the fisheries and livestock ministry will implement the Hilsha development project by June 2024 in order to ensure enforcement of the concerned law to conserve the mother Hilsha and Jhatka (small Hilsha) side by side boosting the Hilsha production through optimum management of Hilsha sanctuaries.

Planning commission member Md Zakir Hossain Akand said the project will be implemented at some 134 upazilas in 29 districts of six divisions.

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He said the main project objectives include boosting the Hilsha production to 620,000 tonnes from 533,000 tonnes, creating alternate employment opportunities for some 30,000 fishermen families engaged in catching Hilsha and distributing some 10,000 legal fishing nets among fishermen.

Zakir said the contribution of Hilsha in the country’s overall fisheries production is 11 per cent while its contribution to the country’s GDP is one per cent.

The main project operations include operating six fish sanctuaries and imparting training to some 18,000 fishermen to create alternate employment opportunities for them.

The planning minister said prime minister Sheikh Hasina in the meeting asked the authorities concerned to motivate fish farming in cages in the water side by side ensuring necessary training, cash support and distributing rice to those fishermen who remained out of work during the lean period.

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Referring to the approval of upgrading Digpait-Sarishabari-Tarakandi road in Jamalpur district into due standard and width with Tk 376.56 crore, the planning minister said prime minister Sheikh Hasina has asked the authorities concerned to think very carefully before undertaking any road construction project.

The prime minister noted that the government has to consider the maintenance capacity of roads alongside constructing those, he said.

Mannan said the prime minister gave directives to the authorities concerned to avoid unnecessary road construction, safeguarding arable land and establishments as much as possible while constructing roads. Besides, roads also obstruct free movement of water.

While giving approval to the Construction of 73 Composite/Modern Border Observation Post (BOP) of BGB at the bordering areas with Tk 233.52 crore, the prime minister said it is very important to ensure safety and comfort of the BGB members.

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Referring to the 1st revision of the establishment of 40 technical training centres at 40 upazilas and one marine technology institute in Chattogram with an additional cost of Tk 335.78 crore, the planning minister said the prime minister put emphasis on imparting training to those expatriate Bangladeshis who returned home from various countries following COVID-19 pandemic so that they could again went abroad for work.

The minister said the development projects would remain under constant monitoring once those are approved.

Relying to a question, planning division senior secretary Md Asadul Islam said there would be no problem with financing for implementing the development projects.

The other project approved in the meeting is Establishing 25-bed Shanti Nibash at Eight Government Sishu Paribar with Tk 73.99 crore.