FHM Humayan Kabir
The railway division has sought Tk 57.83 billion in funds in the next development budget as it wants to upgrade its transport infrastructure for facilitating regional integration in the sub-continent, officials said Thursday.
Planning ministry officials said the railway division has sent to it 62 fresh projects, besides its 41 ongoing ones, where the regional integration has been attached special priority.
The railway division has in its plan the setting up of the Dhaka-Mawa-Bhanga rail track through the proposed Padma bridge, construction of a railway bridge across the Jamuna river at Bahadurabad-Fulchhori Ghat and the Akhaura-Agartala railway track for facilitating regional integration.
“The railway division alone has sought the increased allocation of Tk 57.83 billion fund in the ADP of the next fiscal of 2011-12. In the current ADP, its allocation is nearly Tk 15 billion only,” a planning commission official said.
He said since the government has decided to include Bangladesh in the Trans-Asian Railway, the state-owned railway development authority has sent some projects to the planning commission for developing necessary infrastructure.
“We are now reviewing the schemes. After scrutiny, we will consider the necessary ones and give allocations against those projects,” another planning ministry official said.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) in a major move has urged the Bangladesh government to upgrade cross-border connectivity to set up regional link as it proposed support to 11 road and railway projects, officials said.
The Manila-based anti-poverty lender has already confirmed US$ 12 million funds for conducting a study and preparing designs of the projects hinting at further support for the development works.
The ADB has proposed to construct a railway bridge parallel to the existing Jamuna Bridge, a rail track from Dhaka-Mawa through Padma bridge to Bhanga-Jessore, reconstruct the Hardinge Railway Bridge in Pakshi and a railway link from Dohazari to Cox’s Bazar, and from Ramu to Gundum near Myanmar border.
Besides, the multilateral donor has also assured of bankrolling feasibility study for constructing Phulchhari-Bahadurabad railway bridge on the Jamuna river and renovation of the signalling system on the Iswardi-Parbatipur railway line.
The planning commission officials said: “The railway division in the current fiscal has sought Tk 57.83 billion for its 41 ongoing projects. Among those, some Tk 41.71 billion has been sought from domestic resources and Tk 16.13 billion from external sources.”
They said as the government was now laying more emphasis on establishing regional connectivity, these schemes would help set up regional transport facilities.
Experts said trade volume in the South Asian region was still very negligible compared to that of other regions in the world due to absence of sound communications systems.