Information and broadcasting minister Hasan MahmudBSS

Information and broadcasting minister Hasan Mahmud on Monday said the government has saved Tk 30,000 to 50,000 crore in construction work of 6.15km Padma Bridge compared to construction cost of 1.8km Hardinge Bridge.

He said this taking part in the general discussion on national budget of FY23 in Jatiya Sangsad.

Presenting an account, he said construction of 1.8 kilometer long Hardinge Bridge on river Padma at Pakshey in Ishwardi upazila in Pabna began in 1910 and ended in 1915.

Standard of value of anything is determined on the basis of gold rate and at the period of opening of Hardinge Bridge, there was no system of determining standard of value in dollar, he mentioned.

Hasan, also joint general secretary of ruling Awami League, said the Hardinge Bridge was built at a cost of 47,550,000 rupees and gold rate for per 10 gram was 18.98 rupees which is now Tk 68,000.

If in that account the 1.8 Hardinge Bridge was built, it would have needed Tk 17,035 crore, he said.

Hardinge Bridge is 1.8 kilometer long while Padma Bridge is 6.15 kilometer meant it is three times longer than Hardinge Bridge, he said.

If Hardinge Bridge is built similar to Padma Bridge’s length, it will need Tk 58,000 as per gold rate, he said.

I want to say in this parliament human rights condition in Bangladesh is better than the US. There is no jail in our country where arrestees face inhumane torture
Hasan Mahmud, Information and Broadcasting Minister

Hardinge Bridge is only a railway bridge but Padma Bridge is a multipurpose one having four-lane road on top and single track dual-gauge rail on the bottom as well as gas line and fiber optic cable.

He said taking this into account it needs Tk 100,000 crore to build Hardinge Bridge similar to Padma Bridge.

“So, prime minister Sheikh Hasina has saved Tk 30,000 to 50,000 crore in Padma Bridge construction compared to cost of Hardinge Bridge construction,” he said.

The minister urged de facto opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to refute his remarks logically.

He said the construction works of the 7.18km San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in California, the USA began in 1999 and ended after 14 years in 2013.

In 1999, the estimated cost was $1 billion but it stood at $ 6.5 billion in 2013 after increasing the cost by around 6.5 times and if it ended in 2022, it would need $12 billion, he mentioned.

So, it can be understood easily how much money the prime minister saved in Padma Bridge construction, he said.

The information and broadcasting minister said today the entire world is lauding the government for Padma Bridge construction as the feat is praised in India, the USA, Pakistan, Singapore, Brunei and the North American countries.

Newspapers all over the world lauded the capacity of Bangladesh and leadership of Sheikh Hasina but BNP couldn’t do so, he said.

About BNP lawmaker Harunur Rashid’s speech in parliament, he said Harun thanked the prime minister but didn’t congratulate her.

Actually, BNP is suffering from jealousy as the Padma Bridge is built, he said.

Hasan said BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir remains silent over the matter and BNP lawmaker Harunur Rashid on Sunday raised questions over human rights in his speech.

“I want to say in this parliament human rights condition in Bangladesh is better than the US. There is no jail in our country where arrestees face inhumane torture. In our country, children are not kept to other places detaching them from parents for years after years which see in the United States. When children brought up they can’t recognise their parents,” he said.

Incidents like George Floyd killing didn’t take place in Bangladesh, he said, adding that the US is now talking about death in custody.

Since 2013, over 7000 people have been shot dead in police firing in the United States in seven years, he mentioned.

In 2022, 250 shootings took place in the USA while persons involved in bombings are used to be shot dead in streets of Brussels in Europe, he said, adding that when such encounter incidents take place in Bangladesh, they raise different types of questions.

Black people face severe racism in the USA, as every year many black people die in custody in the country, he said.

“So, human rights condition in Bangladesh is better than the USA,” he said.

Turning to size of budget, the minister said the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2022-23 is 8.7 times larger than the budget for FY 2008-09.

Budget implementation rate is 95-97 per cent in the last several years, he said.

Some organisations like TIB, CPD as well as BNP say every year that the government will not be able to implement the budget and it will not make welfare of poor, he said.

Noting that they gave same comments over the past decade, he said but, the 95-97 per cent budget is being implemented every year.

Poverty rate declined to 20 per cent from 42 per cent and extreme poverty rate comes down below 10, he said.

Noting that per capita income climbed to $2824 from $600, he said the country is marching forward as Bangladesh is now the 31st largest economy by purchasing power parity (PPP) in the world and this is reality, he said.

He said Padma Bridge was opened two days ago which is a symbol of the country’s capacity as well as emotion and love of the people.

Padma Bridge is symbol of prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s courage to implement the mega project defying all local and international conspiracies, the minister said.

He said the country’s biggest self-financed Padma Bridge has been possible because of prime minister Sheikh Hasina.

When the project was taken, the World Bank scrapped its loan for Padma Bridge construction raising allegations of corruptions but Canadian court didn’t find any base of the allegations and evidence of corruption.

In 2011, Padma Bridge project cost was estimated at around $ 2.75 billion dollar, the information minister said.

Of the amount, Bangladesh sought $ 1.2 billion loan from the World Bank and rest from other donor agencies, he said.

Hasan said today the project was implemented at a cost of $ 3.25 billion as per standard of value of dollar now, he said.

As per standard of value of dollar of that period, it was $ 2.75 billion but the works ended at $ 3.25 billion dollar as per present standard of value of dollar, the information and broadcasting minister added.