Dhaka, Aug 24: The government today approved a project to construct an eye-catching Taka 3,263.63 crore first steel arch bridge of the country over the river Brahmaputra in Mymensingh to establish improved road connectivity among the northern districts of greater Mymensingh and with the capital.
The approval came from a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) with its Chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
The premier joined the meeting virtually from her official Ganobhaban residence while ministers and state ministers joined the meeting from the NEC Conference Room in the city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area. Planning Commission members and secretaries concerned were present.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Planning Minister MA Mannan today said that a total of eight projects were approved today involving an overall estimated cost of Taka 5,441.63 crore.
“Of the total project cost, Taka 3,332.72 crore will come from the government of Bangladesh, Taka 47.93 crore from the concerned organization’s own fund while the rest Taka 2,060.98 crore as project assistance,” he added.
Of the approved eight projects, seven are new while one is a revised project.
State Minister for Planning Dr Shamsul Alam, Planning Commission members and secretaries concerned were present at the briefing.
The Kewatkhali Bridge project will be implemented by the Roads and Highways Department under the Road Transport and Highways Division.
The Planning Minister said the project aims to reduce congestion and improve mobility and connectivity by addressing the cross-river bottleneck between Mymensingh and Shambhugonj on the Dhaka-Mymensingh-India corridor.
The project also seeks to ease traffic congestion in the Mymensingh city by diverting traffic away from the city’s central area via the construction of the Kewatkhali Bridge over the Brahmaputra River at Mymensingh with the overpasses and approach road.
Out of the total cost for the bridge project, Taka 1,353.83 crore will come from the government of Bangladesh while the rest Taka 1,909.79 crore as project assistance from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The bridge is expected to be completed by June 2025.
Under the project, there will be a bridge, an overpass, a 6.2 kilometer four-lane road including separate SMVT lanes, in order to establish safe, improved and cost-effective communication system among the northern districts of Mymensingh Division (Sherpur, Netrakona) and with the capital.
Besides, the road communication to and from land-ports, EPZs and special economic zones situated in those areas with the Capital would improve significantly.
The main project operations include construction of 2093 meter bridge foundation and substructure, 320 meter steel arch bridge superstructure, 1773 meter concrete bridge and construction of culverts, construction of a toll plaza, 33.02 hectares of land acquisition and rehabilitation, transfer of utilities, setting up drainage, road marking, sign-signal, barrier, rest areas and other necessary works.
The Planning Minister said there would be four-lane road on both sides of the bridge where latest technology would be used.
Answering to a question, Physical Infrastructure Division Member of the Planning Commission Mamun Al Rashid said that this would be the first steel arch bridge of the country while it would not be replicated like other steel arch bridges of the world.
He informed that there would not be any pillar beneath the main structure of the bridge for which there would not be any problem in navigation.
Mamun added that the consultants of the project would provide their consultancy services during the implementation period of the bridge and also at maintenance level.
The Planning Minister said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the meeting asked the authorities concerned to keep more culverts in the flood-prone areas so that the usual flow of water is not hindered as well as water could flow through many sources.
Mannan said the premier stressed the need for producing more quality agricultural products and thus exporting those following the international standard and maintaining hygiene.
He said the Prime Minister also laid emphasis on modernizing and upgrading the operations of the bio-gas plants.
Referring to the approval for transforming the plant quarantine laboratory to international standard situated at the central packing house with Taka 156.36 crore, State Minister for Planning Dr Shamsul Alam said the export of agricultural products of the country is now hovering around $1 billion and it is not increasing further.
Under the circumstances, he said this project would modernize the laboratory with addition of modern equipments and latest technology which would further expedite the export of agricultural products. “This is a very time befitting project,” he added.
The other projects approved in the meeting are Urban Resilience Project: Dhaka North City Corporation Part (DNCC Part), 1st revised with an additional cost of Taka 66.18 crore, Development of Madarganj-Koira-Monsurnagar (Kazipur)-Abdullah Mor(Sarishabari)-Dhonbari road with Taka 685.13 crore, Massive technology-based integrated resource management for poverty alleviation project with Taka 209.17 crore, Climate Smart Agriculture and Water Management (DoF Part) (CSAWMP) with Taka 106.25 crore, River protection of Dhepa, Punorbhoba and Tangon Rivers in Dinajpur district with Taka 180.05 crore and Capacity enhancement of existing grid substation and transmission line with Taka 774.86 crore.