Govt may accept KL offer for building new airport

Nizam Ahmed
The government is likely to accept Malaysian investment offer of some $6.0 billion for building Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib International Airport, if the authorities concerned can come up with a concrete project, the civil aviation and tourism minister told the FE on Saturday.

The airport plan taken immediately after the present government assumed office in 2009, was twice suspended over the past two years due to objections from the Air Force and the local people at selected sites.

The plan has again come into limelight after a visiting Malaysian envoy offered a $6.0 billion investment for the government project recently.

Malaysian Prime Minister’s special envoy for South Asia Dato S Samy Vellu offered the investment proposal to Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Col (retd) Faruk Khan on Wednesday.

“We may accept the proposed Malaysian investment if we can come up with a project profile,” Minister Faruk Khan told the FE.

“But it is too early to say anything firmly as we are yet to undertake feasibility study and the project profile,” the minister said without giving details.

The airport plan faced the first snag when the Air Force objected against construction of the airport at Trishal in Mymensingh in 2010.

Another effort to set up the airport at Arailbil in Munshiganj was also suspended after local people raised objection fearing eviction in early last year.

However, the government continued its efforts to select other places to set up the international airport near the proposed Padman Bridge and name it after the independence leader Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, father of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Sirajdikhan in Munshiganj district and Dohar under Dhaka district have lastly been selected as ideal sites among the seven places selected for the project so far, officials of the ministry of civil aviation and tourism (MCAT) said.

The complete construction of the international airport in three phases is likely to take some 15 years following feasibility study which is also likely to take more than a year, experts said.

However the airport is likely to be operative partially after the completion of the first phase by 2017.

Consultants are likely to be employed soon through international bidding for conducting feasibility study and the subsequent construction of the project, MCAT officials said.

“Procurement of fund was a substantial impediment to the project. But it seemed to have been removed following the Malaysian investment offer,” a senior official of the MCAT told the FE.

The government is likely to go ahead with the airport plan despite its tenure is nearing to an end. The next general election is due in early 2014, he said.

Ministry sources said according to the roadmap, the authorities concerned were scheduled to complete selection of advisory wing of the project by March 31, appointment of advisers by April 30, submission of feasibility study report by October 31 and final selection by December 31next.

Earlier in 2010, Trishal upazila in Mymensingh district was selected for Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib International Airport which was later cancelled due to the objection from the Air Force.

Later, the government took decision to set up the airport at Arial Beel in Munshiganj district and started land acquisition. But the government retreated in the face of vigorous movement by the local people leading to clashes with law enforcers that left three people killed last year.

Faruk Khan said the government has chosen seven sites for constructing the international airport. “If Char Janaza or Char Bilashpur in the vicinity of the Padma river is selected, it’ll be better. But there’s no doubt that the proposed airport will be built in and around the Padma Bridge,” he added.


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