The Financial Express

No progress in Kulaura-Shahbajpur railway track rehabilitation work

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Rail tracks are stockpiled for the reconstruction of the Kulaura-Shahbajpur section of Bangladesh Railway under Indian credit programme 	— FE Photo Rail tracks are stockpiled for the reconstruction of the Kulaura-Shahbajpur section of Bangladesh Railway under Indian credit programme — FE Photo

SYLHET, Sept 19: There has been no major progress in the much-talked-about rehabilitation of Kulaura-Shahbajpur railway track in Moulvibazar district.

Sources said, rail tracks had been brought to the project site recently. Although the job was to be completed by the middle of 2018, things had to be rescheduled till December 2020, in line with the "project schedule."

But again it seems to be almost impossible as the progress had been very poor.

Only 15 per cent of the railway track setting work had so far been done, a Bangladesh Railway (BR) official admitted, whereas 52 per cent of the job was to be done.

Linked with the Karimganj district of Assam, the 52.54 km Kulaura-Shabajpur railway section was established during the British rule. But the rail link with the Indian part remained suspended and became inoperative for long years since Pakistan period.

Experts said, the authority in a whimsical move shut the Kulaura-Shahbajpur section on July 07, 2007 on the plea of loss in revenue earning. Alongside others, it had been a big blow for the inhabitants of Sylhet region, especially three neighbouring upazilas like Juri, Barlekha and Kulaura.

In the background of widespread agitation in the region, the government decided to resume the train service again. Accordingly the ECNEC approved the railway track rehabilitation project on May 26, 2015 with a targeted expenditure of Tk 6.78 billion. It includes Tk 1.22 billion from government and the rest Tk 5.56 billion from Indian Exim Bank credit.

Accordingly the project was formally inaugurated during the Indian Prime Minister's visit to Bangladesh on June 06 that year.

The section has six rail stations - Kulaura, Juri, Dakshnbhag, Kathaltoli, Barlekha, Muraul and Shahbajpur.

Under the development programme, four of the stations would be of 'B' category and two of 'D' category. As many as 17 bridges, 42 small bridges and culverts would be constructed on the dual gauze section. Indian contracting firm 'Kalindi Rail Nirman' had been awarded the job while Balaji Rail Road systems', another Indian firm had been made consultant.

They started work on May 07 last year while the Bangladesh and Indian Prime ministers formally inaugurated the rehabilitation project through a video conference on September 10 of the same year.

Some of the old bridges and culverts had been dismantled recently for reconstruction while railway tracks are being stockpiled in Chalbond and Uttar Shahbajpur area. However, major construction work was yet to start.

Although 52 per cent work is supposed to be done in a year, only 15 per cent work has been done so far sources informed. Meanwhile the Indian high commissioner to Bangladesh during her visit to the area on May 15expressed her utter dissatisfaction over the progress.

Additional Chief Engineer of Rangladesh Railway Tanvirul Islam, also the project director, said project admitted the progress is 15.7 per cent.  He told this correspondent yesterday, things were delayed for reasons. Frequent rain hit the job much, he claimed, adding, "We are trying to expediting the whole project."

Sources said the Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh and Railway secretary visited the project area recently. However, there has been no major development in the works, sources admitted.

The contracting firm had already been asked time and again for speeding up their work, he said.

An official of the Indian consultancy firm said things had been affected on occasions due to rainfall. Meanwhile the railway tracks had been brought at the Mongla Port and are being taken to the site. Works would begin soon and hopefully things would be done in time, he added.

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