The government’s planned military Composite Brigade Cantonment on one side of the Padma Bridge project site in Mawa will provide security to the project elements. The army has sought Tk 1,774 crore for the Padma Cantonment to build the security installations for the bridge, according to official documents.
Bangladesh Army will construct a new cantonment within the next four years and security surveillance station in and around the project in two phases – because of the crisis of funds. The sudden increase in land prices around the construction site also led to the decision that land acquisition would be done in two phases. The government is going to divert money from sluggish and low-priority development projects to fund the construction of the new cantonment, Ministry sources said.
Planning Minister AHM Mostafa Kamal had met high officials of the Bridges Division and top Bangladesh Army officers in the second week of November, where they decided to form a committee for managing the funds. Minutes of a meeting titled, “Establishment of 99 Composite Brigade for Security and Technical Support of Padma Multi-purpose Bridge Project,” revealed the decisions.
The Planning Commission and Bangladesh Army engineering chief will submit a report on design and estimated costs on December 2. It was decided that a composite brigade would be established with the least number of personnel on the least possible space.
The army had previously sought Tk 1,200 crore for the cantonment but the cost went up due to high prices of land and cost of land development. It is seeking 326 acres of land — 250 acres in Jazira and another 76 acres at Mawa — for the cantonment.
The Planning Minister said the proposal to set up a cantonment was not only related to the security of the bridge alone but it was also related to the security of the country. He said, “We have followed the directives of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in line with our limited resources.”
Bangladesh has eight division-strength cantonments and 20 smaller cantonments that the army term brigades, battalions or units. However, planning ministry documents term it cantonment.
The Padma Cantonment would be one of the smaller cantonments that would accommodate the 99 Composite Brigade, formed in September last year. This brigade has an engineer construction battalion and two infantry battalions. The engineer construction battalion would be employed for construction supervision and the infantry battalion would provide security to the project elements.
The Padma Cantonment would be built by June 2018. It would have barracks for more than 3,300 soldiers, homes for 560 families of soldiers, homes for 81 families of officers, an officers’ mess and a mosque.
The Bridges Division obtained 115.52 acres (15.75 at Mawa and 99.77 acres at Jazira) from that acquired for Padma Bridge, which may also be used for setting up a new cantonment.
In recent years, the government had given the army 1,800 acres of forest land to set up a cantonment in Ramu. Earlier this year, it also decided to build another cantonment in the southern region.