The slow implementation of the Khulna-Mongla rail connectivity project, one of the top priority schemes under the Indian Line of Credit (LoC), raises concern among the stakeholders.
The latest review of the Tk 38 billion (3800 cr) project by both Indian and Bangladesh side shows that only 19 per cent work of the project, which was scheduled to end by June this year, has been completed so far.
India is providing Tk 23 billion, or two-thirds of the cost, of the project.
The project was initiated in 2013 by Bangladesh Railway (BR) with funding from India under LoC. Bangladesh is also financing part of the cost.
Apparently, being worried about the slow pace of the project, which is believed to benefit both India and Bangladesh in transporting goods to and from Mongla port, the authorities asked the contractor to finish the work with utmost priority.
This project, when completed, is expected to be a major contributor to connectivity in the BBIN region. It, hopefully, would also boost business in the region that covers Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Bhutan through Mongla, the country's second-largest seaport.
A relevant official committee has recently instructed the contractor, IRCON to complete Fultala to Aranghata (0 to 9 km of this project) section by December/2018 without any pre-condition.
The IRCON was also instructed to mobilise equipment and project personnel as per the existing contract, according to the minutes of the meeting of the committee, held recently in the ERD to review the LoC-funded projects.
The meeting also observed that the work progress of the Rupsha Bridge is relatively satisfactory.
However, a proposal to allocate more funds for a component of the project is lying with Bangladesh Railway.
"The cost of this project may increase by around US$ 70 million. The Project Director informed that US$ 10 million was re-allocated to the 2nd Bhairab and 2nd Titas project. Altogether, US$ 80 million additional fund may be required to complete this component of the project," the review said.
The meeting decided that the proposal for cost hike for Rupsha bridge due to additional base grouting requirement will be processed by Project Director through proper channels.
It said there may be two cost hike proposals, of which the first proposal will be processed by Bangladesh Railway by October 2018 and the second proposal may be processed three months after processing of the first project.
The meeting also decided that Fultala to Aranghata (0 to 9 km) should be completed by December 2018 without any pre-condition.
The Indian representative in the meeting said the speedy implementation of the LoC projects was their highest priority.
Larsen and Toubro Limited got Tk 10.76 billion Rupsha railway bridge construction work and IRCON International Ltd. received Tk 11.49 billion work to construct embankment, track, all civil works, major and minor bridges and culverts.
There will be nine stations to connect Khulna and Mongla port.
Meanwhile, the cabinet committee on government purchase approved the appointment of another consultant for this project on Wednesday.
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