IMED opposes BBA's plea for addl fund to acquire more land

Padma Bridge spoil dumping

FHM Humayan Kabir | Published: April 17, 2018 00:57:16

The Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) has opposed a demand coming from the Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA) for allocating a substantial amount of additional fund under the Padma Bridge project.

The fund is proposed to be used for acquiring an extensive land area for disposing of river-bed spoils, officials said on Monday.

The IMED of the Planning Commission (PC) has opposed the BBA's proposal for acquisition of 1,167.98 hectares of land at an estimated cost of Tk 14 billion. The amount sought is in addition to the allocation made earlier for the same work.

An IMED team, after visiting the Padma Bridge project site, has recommended acquisition of only 9.35 hectares additional land on the Mawa side instead of BBA-demanded 1,167.98 hectares of land, insiders said.

The BBA, the Padma Bridge project executing agency, a few months back sought Tk 14 billion extra funds for acquiring the additional land in Munshiganj, Shariatpur and Madaripur areas.

The government had allocated Tk 12.98 billion funds for acquiring 1,530.54 hectares of land for the same purpose.

The IMED, the government's project monitoring body, has also recommended a review of the ongoing river training work of the bridge construction project to protect the adjacent areas of Padma River and ensure its smooth navigation, they added.

After visiting the Padma Bridge site, the IMED team in its report said the BBA could conduct its river training work towards the north-western side of the river's original flow instead of the ongoing river training work towards the western upstream in Kawrakandi area for protecting the existing 'chars' (small islands).

It has also recommended re-examination and review of the current river training work up to the depth of 25 metres, as it could be affected by scouring in the future.

"The piling for the bridge piers is being conducted up to a depth of 60 metres of the river to check any possible damage through scouring. So, the current decision of conducting river training work up to the depth of 25 metres can be reviewed," according to the IMED report.

The report mentioned that the BBA has already acquired 1,513.41 hectares of land. Of which, mutation of 874.02 hectares has been completed, while mutation of the rest 639.39 hectares is yet to be completed.

Earlier, following the BBA's demand for more land and money, he PC had requested the IMED to examine the requirement by exploring the status of land acquisition and fund-spending.

"Following request from the Bridges Division, we've scrutinised the fund requirement and sought approval from the planning minister. The minister raised question over the demand for additional fund and asked the IMED to examine the issue," said a senior PC official.

"After getting the IMED's report recently, we have sent the findings to the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges for examining the issue. Following feedback from the ministry, the commission will take further action," the PC official added.

Meanwhile, some project insiders said although there are huge 'khas' lands and 'chars' along with unutilised public and private lands across Padma River, the BBA's proposal does appear unusual.

The BBA can dump or dispose of spoils to even some privately-owned low-lying unutilised lands. Many land owners will be happy, if BBA fills their lands with the spoils and sands from Padma Bridge project, they also opined.

"The acquired land for the project has already been filled up. Siltation is one of the key reasons behind filling up the earmarked lands. So, more land needs to be acquired for spoilw disposal," an official of the Bridges Division claimed.

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