The government has undertaken a project to build various infrastructures in the South Chittagong region for the economic development and eliminate inequality of the people especially for Rohingyas refugees.
As part of the government move, the project titled, “South Chittagong Regional Development (SCRD)' will be implemented at an estimated cost of Tk 3,644.92 crore, a Planning Commission official said, adding that the proposed project has been sent to the Planning Commission for approval.
However, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is providing loan to increase the infrastructure facilities of the camp areas to cope with the pressure of the displaced Rohingyas in Myanmar.
Out of the total cost, Tk 1,147.87 crore will be spent from government funds and Tk 2,497.05 crore from JICA loan assistance.The officials said if the project is implemented, the standard of living of the people of South Chittagong region (the Rohingya dominated area of Cox's Bazar) will be improved through infrastructural development.
They hope that the project will make an important contribution for economic development and elimination of inequality in the region.
In February 2021, under the Japanese ‘ODA’ loan project, the government had a plan to develop public infrastructure in the south-Chittagong region and improve the living conditions of the affected locals due to the arrival of displaced people from Rakhine state in Myanmar.
For this reason, a loan agreement was signed between the government and the Japanese government on June 28 last year in favor of the South Chittagong Regional Development Project.
Planning Secretary Satyajit Karmakar said, “Moheshkhali-Matarbari Integrated Infrastructure Development Initiative (MIDI) will be developed through proper provision of public infrastructure in South Chittagong region. The influx of displaced persons from Myanmar's Rakhine State will contribute to improving the quality of life of local residents affected. Besides, five upazilas and three municipalities of Cox's Bazar district of Chittagong division have been selected as project areas.”
Through the project, it will be possible to build various infrastructures in the South Chittagong region and eliminate the economic development and inequality of the people, he mentioned.
Officials of the Planning Commission said after receiving proposals from the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives, the Project Evaluation Committee (PEC) meeting was held on September 6 last year.
Following the recommendations given in that meeting, the project has been recommended to present in the next meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC).
If approved, the local government engineering department will complete its implementation by December 2028.
The project proposal states that the ‘Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt’ or Big-B concept has been mentioned in the joint statement signed between the Japanese government and the country's Prime Minister in 2014 to accelerate industrialization along the Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox's Bazar belt. which later serves as a regional node and value chain hub for the Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox's Bazar belt and beyond for South Asia and Southeast Asia.
In 2018, the government has launched the MIDI for the construction of logistics hub power and energy hub and water front industry hub and so on in South Chittagong region including Cox's Bazar district.
Based on MIDI, JICA is supporting infrastructure development in the region through Matarbari Ultra Super Critical Coal-Fired Power Project, Matarbari Port Development Project, and other infrastructure projects.
Through these development activities, Cox's Bazar, the main development area of MIDI, will become a focal point of regional development and is expected to lead the country's growth in the future.
In addition, about nine lakh Rohingya displaced from Rakhine state due to genocide and torture by the Myanmar military have taken refuge in Ukhia and Teknaf upazilas of Cox's Bazar district.
Thus the influx of displaced persons from Myanmar's Rakhine State has put an incredible strain on the existing infrastructure.
As a result, access to clean drinking water, sanitation, forest and agricultural land has decreased, along with the loss of income opportunities for local residents.
Further population growth in the future is expected to lead to increased traffic, deterioration of roads and bridges, health and education crisis, deterioration of quality of social services and increase in waste.
This project is being taken in continuation of this. The main activities of the project are- acquisition or compensation of 101 hectares of land, 96.10 km of roads, three townships, 17.863 km of canal development, 1,035 meters of bridge culverts, 196.34 km of roadside drains and construction of four solid waste management will be done.
In addition, 192.20 km of sidewalks along the road, 14.44 lakh cubic meters of earthwork, 2,970 meters of slope protection, three multipurpose flood shelters, nine markets, a training center, nine public toilets, 2,409 street lights, water supply and two parks will be established.