The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on Tuesday cleared seven projects, including a Tk 846-crore one to widen Baraiyarhat-Heyanko-Ramgarh road under Chittagong and Khagrachhari districts, aiming to boost export-import between Bangladesh and India.
The approval came from the 5th Ecnec meeting of the current fiscal year, held using a digital platform with Ecnec Chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
The Prime Minister and Planning Minister MA Mannan joined the meeting from Ganobhaban through a videoconference, while other Ecnec members were connected from NEC Bhaban.
“Today (Tuesday), we placed seven projects of four ministries at the meeting and all the projects got approval. The total cost of the projects is Tk 3,461.97 crore,” said the planning minister at a virtual press briefing.
Of the total project cost, Tk 2,619.79 crore will be borne from the government fund, while the remaining Tk 862.18 crore from foreign sources either as loan or grant as the World Bank will provide Tk 260.98 crore as grant, he said adding that six of the approved projects are fresh ones.
Talking about the project titled ‘Widening of Baraiyarhat-Heyanko-Ramgarh Road’, MA Mannan said, “The road is very important. We’re improving the road to increase trade and business with India…. It’s a win-win situation for both of us – Bangladesh and India.”
The project will be implemented by June 2022, he said adding that both the countries are interested to enhance the trade and business using the road that connected Tripura of India and Chattogram port through the Naf River.
Of the project cost of Tk 845.53 crore, Tk 581.20 crore will come as foreign loan from the Indian Line of Credit (LoC) to Bangladesh, while the rest Tk 264.33 crore from the government fund, he said.
There is a possibility to develop a border-haat in Ramgarh as the project is expected to help develop the possible border market as well, he added.
At the Ecnec meeting, the Prime Minister dropped the proposal for the construction of a rest house spending Tk 2.79 crore from the project. She rather suggested that there could be a separate project for the construction of rest houses across the country where these are essential across, Mannan said.
While approving a project titled ‘Improvement and Widening the Daudkandi-Goyalmari-Sreerayerchar (Cumilla)-Matlab Uttar (Chhengarchar) District Highway’ to be implemented by June 2023 at a cost of Tk 524.37 crore, the Prime Minister opposed the proposal of any toll-free road.
The Planning Minister said the PM thinks everything should not be free as toll needs to be collected to recover the money spent on highways as huge money is needed for the development and repair of those.
The Prime Minister, while approving the two projects placed by the Water Resources Ministry, gave a clear directive not to construct sluice gates anymore as many of the existing ones do not work now.
She also gave directives to dredge canals alongside rivers to maintain the normal flow of water.
Besides, the Prime Minister directed the authorities concerned, to develop a suitable infrastructure model for school, college and madrassah located in the vicinity of rivers so that these infrastructures can easily be relocated in the case of riverbank erosion.
“The infrastructures should be built knowing the character of the rivers,” Sheikh Hasina was quoted as saying.
Talking about the floods, she said the flood is not considered only as danger but also as resource as it causes siltation leading to good production of crops during the post-flood period.
Referring to the approval of a project titled “Tuna and its homogeneous Pelagic Fishes Extraction in the Deep Sea Pilot Project’, the Planning Minister said the project will be implemented by December 2023 at a cost of Tk 61.06 crore to explore the potentials of catching and marketing such high value fish at the exclusive economic zone of Bangladesh at the deep sea.
The lone revised scheme is Emergency multi-sectoral Rohingya crisis response project, (1st revised) that was cleared with an increased cost of Tk 261.31 crore.
The other approved projects are replacing the narrow and risky and old concrete bridges and bailey bridges with new concrete ones on the highways under Khulna Roads Zone at a cost of Tk 526.42 crore; Protecting Dhulia Lunchghat under Bauphal Upazila in Patuakhali and Durgapasha under Bakerganj Upazila in Barishal from the riverbank erosion of Tentulia involving Tk 712.21 crore, Removing water-logging at Kapotakshya River (Phase-II) with TK 531.07 crore.