15.31Km Elevated Road In Haor: Govt may embark on Tk 5,651cr project
The government has a plan to undertake a Tk 5,651-crore project to construct a 15.31km elevated road in the haor region of Kishoreganj to establish the district's direct road links with Dhaka, Sylhet and other districts.
The initiative is aimed at ensuring smooth road communications in all seasons in the hoar areas and transporting agri-products easily.
It will help flourish tourism in the country's northeastern region, Planning Commission documents say.
Amid the government's call for austerity measures, the spending of Tk 5,651 crore on the project has sparked criticism.
Experts urged the government not to take up such a big project.
However, the government says it is going to undertake the project considering the haor people's interest.
The project of constructing the elevated road from Mithamain upazila town to Morichkhali in Karimganj upazila of Kishoreganj may be placed before a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on January 17 for approval, Planning Commission sources said.
The Bangladesh Bridge Authority is the implementing agency of the project.
Apart from the elevated road, the authorities will also widen 13.40km road from Nakvanga intersection to Morichkhali Bazar under the project.
The Bureau of Research, Testing and Consultation of Buet carried out a feasibility study on the proposed elevated road.
The project is expected to start in March 2023 and be completed in June 2028. The government will fund the project.
"If the project is implemented, a road network will be established between Itna, Mithamain, and Astagram upazilas of Kishoreganj and its surrounding haor areas with Kishoreganj district town and Dhaka, Sylhet and other districts," according to the Planning Commission documents.
About the government austerity measures, Planning Minister MA Mannan said the government underscores the need for austerity, but never said about stopping development works.
The government has taken the project considering the interest of the haor people, he said.
"We never say that we will stop development works. If we do it, the economy will be ruined. We are taking up the project after verifying the viability of the project," said Mannan.
This project will not harm the environment anymore as we will build an elevated road instead of constructing any dam in the haor areas.
"It's not a luxury project; rather it is essential for the hoar people."
Speaking to The Daily Star, Ahsan H Mansur, executive director of the Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh, termed the project luxurious.
"It is not the right time to undertake such a project amid the depletion of the forex reserves. This project can be taken up at a convenient time later," he said.
Mansur added that import of construction materials might increase the project cost as elevated roads usually need heavy metal and other accessories, prices of which are high in the international market now.
Prof Mustafizur Rahman, distinguished fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue, said the project is essential, but the government should move slowly at this time amid the ongoing austerity measures.