DHAKA-BHANGA RAIL LINK
A detailed project programme draft has recently been finalised for setting up rail link between Dhaka and Faridpur through the Padma Bridge, for an estimated Tk17,041 crore, sources at the Railways Ministry have said.
However, the cost is likely to raise eyebrows, as it is a significant rise from an earlier Tk12,814 crore estimate prepared only five months ago.
The draft for connecting Dhaka with Bhanga through railway comes despite the fact that the ministry is yet to find any funding for this project.
However, Railways Secretary Munsur Ali Sikder denied that the draft had been finalised.
“It can be confirmed that the cost has gone up. But the detailed project programme is yet to be finalised. We are working with the Planning Commission to finalise it. The DPP will then be sent to the Ecnec for approval,” he told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.
Replying to a query on funding, the secretary said: “We are seeking funds for laying rail tracks. We sent letters to different organisations for loans or donations.”
Sources at the ministry, meanwhile, said the completed DPP draft would be sent to the Planning Commission as soon as a source of funding was confirmed.
The government is expected to sign a loan agreement with the Chinese government for this project, sources added.
A ministry official, seeking anonymity, said the estimated cost in the DPP draft had increased for a rise in land valuation on the Dhaka-Mawa Highway.
However, the difference between land acquisition costs cited by the feasibility study report and the DPP draft is reportedly only Tk50 lakh; the feasibility study report put land acquisition cost at Tk3,639 crore and the DPP at Tk3,640.20 crore.
The government expects to inaugurate the much-awaited Padma Multipurpose Bridge by 2018.
In January 2011, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved the design of the Padma Bridge that included rail tracks.
Sources said it would take 82.32km of rail tracks to run a train on the Padma Bridge – 44.32km to connect Dhaka to the bridge, 6.15km to span the bridge, and 31.85km from the bridge to Bhanga in Faridpur.