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Design change makes Khulna-Mongla rail project costlier

Published : 26 Apr 2021 09:50 PM | Updated : 27 Apr 2021 01:16 AM

The cost of Khulna-Mongla Port Rail Line Project has increased by more than 151 percent to Tk 4,329 crore due to changes in the designs of bridges and acquiring of more land.

Bangladesh Railway has claimed that the cost of the project is increasing due to the corona crisis, lack of experience in implementation of big projects and change in the design of Rupsha Bridge.

The project is aimed at reducing dependency on the Chattogram Port, its importance was also high in establishing regional connectivity and trade relations with Nepal and Bhutan using the bridge and the country's second sea port.

The cost of the project is increasing over time, an official of planning commission said. The cost of the original project was Tk 1,721 crore.

“After that, in the first amendment, the cost of the project increased to Tk 3,801 crore. In the second amendment, a total cost of Tk 4,329 crore has been proposed to the Planning Commission,” he mentioned.

“Bangladesh Railway has already sent a proposal for the project to the planning commission,” he said adding, “A meeting of the project evaluation committee of the project will be held soon.”

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved the project on December 31, 2010 involving Tk 1,721 crore. At that time, the project was estimated to implement by December 2013.

The deadline was initially extended to December 2014, then to June 2018, June 2020 and June 2021.

Earlier, Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan had directed the officials concerned to complete the project by next December at any cost. Meanwhile, an application has been submitted for extension of the project till December 2022.

The project director Md Arifuzzaman said that a big project requires a lot of experiences.

“Now we are implementing big projects, constantly learning. There can be different changes when it comes to doing different things on a big project. Also, we are passing corona crisis,” he mentioned.

“In fact, time and revision are needed for various reasons,” he said adding that, “There is a bridge over the river Rupsha, it had a design problem, due to which the time and cost is increasing.”

Initially, the total length of the railway was 64.75 km as an Indian-dollar credit line to finance the project was later included. But at present its total length is increasing to about 85.86 km.

“The railway was supposed to be built on the east side of Khulna city but now it will be built on the west side. That is why the time and cost is almost doubling,” Railway Ministry sources said.

The implementation period has been mentioned in the new DPP as December 2022. India will provide another $100 million for the project. The rest of the money will be met from the public sector.

Earlier, of the total cost of the project, Tk 1,113.18 crore will come from the public sector and Tk 2,399 crore will come from project assistance. The project witnessed 75 percent progress till December last year.