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Our mega development projects

| Updated: June 05, 2022 21:33:04

Aerial photo taken on Aug. 29, 2021 shows a scene from the first trial run of Bangladesh's metro rail service in Dhaka. (Xinhua Photo) Aerial photo taken on Aug. 29, 2021 shows a scene from the first trial run of Bangladesh's metro rail service in Dhaka. (Xinhua Photo)

In the last 12 years or so the country witnessed a good number of development projects which can be termed as mega projects. The mega projects, whose completion is expected to raise Bangladesh's GDP by as much as 4 per cent, are set to get about 48 per cent more allocation in the upcoming fiscal year, as part of the government's push to ensure their timely implementation.

Seven of the eight mega projects-- Padma bridge, Padma bridge rail link, Dhaka mass rapid transit line-6 (Metro Rail), Chattogram-Cox's Bazar rail link, Rooppur nuclear power plant, Matarbari 1200MW coal-fired power plant and the Payra deep sea port are extremely crucial to the country's economic growth and hence the key focus of the government now is their timely completion.

After the Awami League government came to power in 2009, it took up several monumental development projects with the view to transforming the country's communication, transport and power infrastructure. A total of 10 mega projects, which would have a substantial impact on the economy and wellbeing of the population, were singled out for fast-tracking. Unforeseen events like the Gulshan café attack or the global coronavirus pandemic led to cost escalations and time extension for implementation of some of the projects. Yet, the authorities are hopeful that some of the projects would be ready in fiscal 2021-22. Of them, the most talked about one the Padma multipurpose bridge project, which started in January 2009 with the objective of linking the southwestern part of Bangladesh to the capital and greater part of the country. It has missed several deadlines but is likely to be ready for use in June next year-with three times the original cost. Under the project, a 169 km rail line is being constructed from Dhaka to Jashore via the under-construction Padma bridge at a cost of Tk 39,246 crore.

The Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit Line-6 or MRT-6, the country's first metro rail system, being built at a cost of Tk 21,985 crore, may be ready for use next year. Test run of metro rail has already started on almost half of the track. Almost 63.3 per cent of the project has been completed so far.

The targeted completion date for the Chattogram-Cox's Bazar rail line is June next year. As of April, 59 per cent of the work has been completed and project officials are hopeful of completion by late  2022 or early 2023.

A unit of the Rampal coal-fired power plant, another fast-track project, is likely to come into operation within the next fiscal year, while the other three projects would take two to four years to come into operation. All the expectations depend, to a great extent, on quick return of the country to a normal situation from pandemic that again depends on speedy vaccination programme. The government has been sincerely trying to bring most of

the people under this programme.

"Electricity for all" is another slogan of the present government. Rooppur nuclear power plant project and Matarbari 1200 MW coal fired power plant project, on their completion will make remarkable contribution to materialise this slogan.

Payera deep sea port project will bring great change in the shipping system of the country. Bangladesh has successfully occupied its own share in the space by launching. Bangabandhu Satellite which has been functioning smoothly since its launching. To get rid of traffic congestion in the capital city and its vicinity Elevated Express way is in progress.

The market-based economy of Bangladesh is the 46th largest in the world in nominal terms, and 33rd largest by purchasing power parity; it is classified among the next Eleven emerging market economies and a Frontier market, according to the IMF, Bangladesh's economy is the second fastest growing major economy with a rate of 7.1 per cent. Dhaka and Chottogram are the principal financial centers of the country, being home to the Dhaka Stock Exchange and the Chottogram Stock Exchange. The financial sector of Bangladesh is the second largest in the subcontinent. Bangladesh is strategically important for the economies of Northeast India, Nepal and Bhutan, as Bangladeshi seaports provide maritime access for these landlocked regions and countries. China also views Bangladesh as a potential gateway for its landlocked southwest, including Tibet, Sichuan and Yunnan.

This brief overview lends a picture of the things to emerge on the country's development front, in near future. What is important at this stage is to ensure that cost over-run in the execution of the projects due to various reasons is avoided at all cost.

Syed L. Ali Bahram, MBA is a freelance journalist

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