The cost of Ashuganj-Akhaura 4-lane national highway project is increasing by 62.33 percent to Tk 5,791 crore.
At the same time, the implementation period is also increasing by three years. Therefore, the first amendment proposal of the project has been sent to the Planning Commission.
The project is being implemented under Indian Loan (LoC).
However, Tk 1,117.44 crore or 31.32 percent has been spent under the project till last August while real progress stands at 31 percent.
Mamun-al-Rashid, Member (Secretary) of the Physical Infrastructure Division of the Planning Commission in charge of the project, said the implementation of the project has been delayed due to various realities including the Corona pandemic.
Project stakeholders have also presented arguments behind the increase in expenditure, he mentioned.
If the revised project is implemented, the 50.56 km highway from Ashuganj river port to Akhaura land port will be upgraded to four lanes National Highway, he further said.
As a result, uninterrupted road connectivity with Bangladesh and the northeastern states of India will increase, he said adding that, at the same time, the socio-economic condition of the project area will be improved. Therefore, the amendment proposal of the project is eligible for approval, he mentioned.
An official of the Planning Commission said that the PEC (Project Evaluation Committee) meeting was held on August 25 after receiving proposals from the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges.
The project has been recommended to be presented at the next meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) in compliance with the recommendations made at the meeting.
The Department of Roads and Highways is to implement the project.
The amendment proposal of the project states that under the project, a total of 50.56 km of highway from Ashuganj river port to Akhaura land port has been proposed to be upgraded to four lanes with separate service lanes for slow moving vehicles on both sides.
Under the project, from Ashuganj river port to Dhaka-Sylhet highway (N-2) to Ashuganj, zero point 651 km highway (existing width-5.5 m) is connected.
Besides, the Dhaka-Sylhet National Highway (N-2) is 11.56 km from Ashuganj to Sarail (existing width is 7.32 m).
From Sarail to Cumilla (Mainamati) -Brahmanbaria (Sarail) National Highway (N-102) to Dharkhar 27.54 km of highway and from Dharkhar to Dharkhar-Akhaura District Highway to Akhaura Land Port Senarbadi 11.315 km of highway is included.
It has also been proposed to construct 16 bridges, 33 culverts, 10 foot over bridges, 3 underpasses and 2 overpasses on the project highway.
The development of the planned highway is necessary to expand bilateral and sub-regional trade with India and other neighboring countries in the region.
The Technical Assistance for Sub-Regional Road Transport Project Preparatory Facility Technical Assistance Project, funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), has been surveyed.
Under this, feasibility study, EIA and design of the proposed road network for the proposed development of the project is carried out.
The project was approved by ECNEC at an estimated cost of Tk 3,576 crore. At this time, the implementation period was from April 2017 to June this year.
After that the term was extended once till June 2022 without any increase in expenditure. At present, due to the increase in inclusion, quantity and cost reduction of some new components of the project, the first amendment has been proposed at an estimated cost of Tk 5,791.60 crore, up 62.33 percent or Tk 2,223.75 crore.
Besides, the implementation period has been extended by three years till June 2025.
The main activities under the project are land acquisition, construction of flexible pavement, rigid pavement, construction of drains, construction of 18 bridges, 2 railway overpasses and construction of 4 underpasses.
Besides, 36 culverts, 10 foot over bridges, 54 meter culverts, retaining walls and CC blocks will be installed.