The estimated cost of the much-hyped Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project is likely to see a rise for the third time as more lands have to be acquired for the completion of the project.
With the proposed additional cost of Tk1,400cr, the overall cost for the long-awaited bridge would be standing at Tk30,193.38cr, reports UNB.
A Planning Commission official preferring anonymity said the initial amount of Tk1,299cr, which was allocated for the acquisition of some 1,530 hectares of land in the original Development Project Proforma (DPP), has already been spent.
“But, now there's a need to acquire some additional 1168 hectares of land in Munshiganj, Madaripur and Shariatpur districts for which additional Tk 1,400 crore is needed," the official added.
The project, when approved in 2007, was supposed to cost Tk10,162cr, but in 2011 it was revised upwards to Tk20,507cr.
The last and second revision of the Padma Bridge Project was approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on January 5, 2016, with an estimated cost of Tk28,793.38cr assuming December 2018 as the completion deadline.
Another official at the Bridges Division said since the allocated amount against land acquisition as per the DPP has already been spent it is not possible now to acquire additional land which causing hamper to the project works.
"Besides, the contractor will have to pay a huge compensation if the required lands cannot found in the right time and that will eventually delay the project implementation.”
Under the current scenario, the Bridges Division has already sent a proposal to the Planning Commission for its approval for the cost hike of the project considering the significance of this fast-track project and implementing it properly within the stipulated timeframe.
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The official also said the proposed project cost hike of Tk1,400cr is 4.86% of the overall project cost. Planning Commission can approve the cost hike if it is not more than 5% of the overall project cost.”
In the original project design, there were some low-lying lands and due to some delay in project work and those lands have been filled with silt.
Besides, the prices of those lands have been increased as the farmers are often expressing their unwillingness to give those lands as those have become much more fertile due to siltation and even they are not interested to rent those out.
The Bridges Division official said the project authorities need to keep necessary construction materials and big concrete blocks on those lands and subsequently land acquisition proposal was made to the landowners.
The implementation of the Padma Bridge faced a setback in the earlier stage as on June 29, 2012, when the World Bank had cancelled its $1.2bn IDA credit for the project, claiming that it had credible evidence of a corruption conspiracy among high-level Bangladeshi government officials, SNC Lavalin executives, and private individuals.
Following the credit cancellation, the government took it as a challenge and decided to implement the project with its own fund.