The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) on Tuesday approved 16 projects, including the establishment of a new naval base, to ensure security for Payra port in Kalapara upazila in Patuakhali, reports UNB.
The approval came from the 13th ECNEC meeting of the current fiscal held at the NEC conference room here with ECNEC chairperson and prime minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
The naval base project, BNS Sher-e-Bangla Patuakhali, will be implemented from June 2018 to June 2021 at an estimated cost of Tk 1,081.50 crore. The entire fund will come from the state coffer.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, planning minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said, "A total of 16 projects were approved today involving an overall cost of Tk 5,220.83 crore."
Of the total estimated cost, Tk 4,744.12 crore will come from the national exchequer, while Tk 13.83 crore from the organisations' own funds and Tk 462.88 crore as project assistance, he said.
Of the 16 projects, 15 are new, while one is revised one.
Talking about the BNS Sher-e Bangla project, the minister said the new naval base will have some 5,000 military and civil members.
In 2013, prime minister Sheikh Hasina laid the foundation stone of the naval base at Lalua adjacent to the Payra port.
The objective of the BNS Sher-e Bangla project is to ensure security for the seaport, commercial ships, fishing trawlers and boats in deep sea and coastal areas, and maritime institutions associated with the blue economy alongside enhancing the capacity of Bangladesh Navy as part of building an international standard naval force in line with the Forces Goal 2030 to prevent attacks from the external enemies and protect the country's independence and sovereignty.
The techno-economic feasibility study of the fast tract Payra seaport project also suggested that the presence of Bangladesh Navy is essential to ensure security of commercial ships and foreign crew in the Payra port.
The operational activities of Payra port started in December 2016. So, the presence of Navy is essential to run patrol boats and deploy naval contingent in any emergency situation for ensuring the security to ships and channels there. Now ships of Bangladesh Navy are brought to Payra from Chittagong naval base, 174 nautical miles from Payra, and Mongla Naval base, 136 nautical miles, if necessary.
Regarding the approval of the Smart Pre-payment Metring Project for West Zone Power Distribution Company Ltd (WZPDCL) with Tk 426.37 crore, Mustafa Kamal said prime minister Sheikh Hasina has asked the authorities concerned not to import such metres from abroad.
She directed the industries ministry and the energy, power and mineral resources ministry to produce such metres in the country through a joint venture.
Other big projects approved at the meeting are 'Protection of Right Bank of Padma River at Jajira and Naria upazilas in Shariatpur' involving an estimated cost of Tk 1097.21 crore, 'the Disaster Risk Management Enhancement Project' involving Tk 620.22 crore and Capacity Strengthening of Existing Runways and Taxi-ways of Chittagong Shah Amanat International Airport involving Tk 540.52 crore.
The projects approved in the meeting also include Small Irrigation Development in Tangail and Kishoreganj districts under Mymensingh and Dhaka Divisions with Tk 139.01 crore, Soil Research and Research Facilities Strengthening Project (SRSRF) with Tk 63.08 crore, Sheikh Russel Aviary and Echo Park Installment at Rangunia, Chittagong, 2nd phase project with Tk 125.51 crore, and Afforestation in the Coastal Areas including in the newly emerged char areas in the Bay of Bengal with Tk 104.80 crore.
The other projects are Introduction of Tourism Facilities at Parky and Patenga in Chittagong with Tk 62.11 crore, Salna (Rajendrapur)-Kapasia-Tok-Mothkhola Highway Widening and Strengthening Project with Tk 224.24 crore, Mirpur DOHS gate-2 to Mirpur-12 Bus Stand Highway Widening and Development Project with Tk 146.17 crore, Construction of Seven Bridges to Replace the damaged Bailey Bridges on Pagla-Jagannathpur-Raniganj-Aushakandi Road and another bridge over river Abua on Niyamatpur-Tahirpur Road with Tk 141.25 crore, Upward Extension of ENCOM building for Modernisation and Capacity Enhancement of Police Department with Tk 156.02 crore, construction of Mujib Battery Complex at Chittagong Artillery Centre and School with Tk 180 crore and establishment of Sheikh Lutfur Rahman Dental College and Hospital, Gopalganj, 1st revised with Tk 112.82 crore.