The government’s highest policymaking body on Tuesday approved a project to improve navigability of river route from Mongla to Pakshi via Chandpur-Mawa-Goalanda.
It is aimed at facilitating safe and easy transportation of heavy machinery from Chittagong and Mongla ports for setting up the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant in Pabna.
The approval was given at a meeting of the executive committee of the National Economic Council held at the NEC conference room. ECNEC chairperson, prime minister Sheikh Hasina chaired the meeting, reports UNB.
Briefing newsmen later, planning minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said the meeting approved eight projects with an estimated cost of Tk 31.72 billion.
"Of the total project cost, Tk 2,579.40 crore (Tk 25.78 billion) will come from the national exchequer while the rest of Tk 592.56 crore (Tk 5 billion) from project assistance," he said.
All the approved eight projects are new ones, the minister added.
The planning minister said Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) will implement the dredging project by June 2025 with Tk 956 crore (Tk 9.56 billion) from the state coffer.
It will be implemented at the river route under Munshiganj, Manikganj, Rajbari, Faridpur, Madaripur, Dhaka, Barisal, Pirojpur, Kushtia and Pabna districts.
A shipping ministry official said domestic river transportation is a very important
mode of transportation in a riverine country like Bangladesh.
About 5 million cusecs of water and 2.4 billion tonnes of silt are flown every year through rivers which is also 18.5 percent of the world's total silt flown every year.
As a result, he said, the country's rivers are gradually losing navigability and there is a need to carry out dredging to keep the river routes operative all year round.
Under the project, some 290 kilometers of river route will be dredged.
The other project operations include conducting a 870-km hydrographic survey, 9.310 million cubic meters of capital dredging, some 25.690 million cubic meter of maintenance dredging.
The planning minister also said a move is underway to dredge the major common rivers under joint initiatives with India.
If all the rivers are dredged properly, then the country could see around $6 to $7 billion of additional revenue with the removal of silt and reclamation of land.
The ECNEC meeting also approved the 'Bangladesh regional connectivity project-1: Shewla, Bhomra, Ramgarh land port development and improvement of the security system at Benapole land port' with Tk 693 crore (Tk 6.93 billion).
Bangladesh Land Port Authority under the shipping ministry will implement the project by June 2021 with Tk 592.56 crore assistance from the World Bank.
The project seeks to ensure infrastructural development at Shewla, Bhomra, Ramgarh and Benapole Land Ports.
The other projects approved at the meeting are Nabinagar-Shibpur-Radhika regional highway construction and development (R-203) project with Tk 343.60 crore, Jamalpur-Dhanua Kamalpur-Kadamtala (Roumari) district highway (including Kamalpur land port link) widening and strengthening with Tk 335.66 crore, Rajbari road protection (2nd phase) project with Tk 341.99 crore, river bank (left) protection of Jamuna River under Gopalpur and Bhuyapur upazilas in Tangail with Tk 200.57 crore, protecting Harina Ferryghat under Chandpur and Katakhal Bazar at Charbhairabi from Meghna's erosion with Tk 190.77 crore and Establishment of Sheikh Russell Textile Engineering College in Sylhet with Tk 110.37 crore.
Ministers and state ministers, Planning Commission members and secretaries concerned were present.