50-acre Gazipur university project cost estimated at 10,000C

UGC thinks that the project cost should not exceed Tk1,000 crore

A Development Project Proposal (DPP) for Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Digital University has been submitted to the government, putting its estimated cost at Tk10,100 crore. The university will be established over 50-acre land in Gazipur’s Koliakoir.

According to experts the cost is way above what it should be, reports national daily Desh Rupantar. 

The proposal showed that around Tk4,580 crore has been spent on the procurement of land and in the infrastructural sector. 

However, the University Grants Commission (UGC) is of the view that the project cost should not exceed Tk1,000 crore. 

The Sheikh Hasina University in Netrokona had been the most expensive education set up to date, costing Tk2,700 crore. The campus sprawls over 1,200 acres of land. 

UGC review overruled 

UGC sources revealed that the project proposal was submitted last year putting the estimated cost at Tk10,451 and the completion time at 2025 starting from June 2022. 

However, following the university regulatory body review, they cut down costs by nearly Tk400 crore. 

According to the Desh Rupantor report, the UGC was forced to send the DPP to the education ministry in March. 

“We had asked the university authorities to revise the DPP but they made very few changes,” said, UGC member Dr Muhammad Alamgir, who heads the proposal review committee. 

He added that the proposal has been submitted to the education ministry with their observation. 

Why so expensive? 

According to the DPP submitted to the UGC, an allocation of Tk5,058 crore was made for procurement. It includes the Innovation and Incubation Lab costing Tk169 crore, transport Tk21 crore, research equipment Tk743 crore, office equipment Tk39 crore, furniture Tk72 crore, supercomputers Tk787 crore, ICT infrastructure for smart campus costing Tk361 crore, ICT infrastructure for teaching learning Tk2,125 crore, service and maintenance Tk846 crore, gardening and beautification Tk76 crore and Tk10 crore for the library and books. 

Among the constructions, the estimated cost of the four-storied mosque has been put at Tk79 crore, swimming pool at Tk23 crore, two five-storied lecture halls Tk106 crore, two -storied scholar plaza Tk71 crore, two walking and driveways Tk13 crore, eight-storied super computing Tk79 crore, seven-storied incubation centre Tk71 crore, a six-storied library for Tk40 crore, seven-storied teachers student centre Tk200 crore, six-storied sports complex Tk66 crore, and a Saheed Minar costing Tk4.5 crore. Moreover, the five buildings of the university are expected to cost Tk 7 crore. 

In addition to that, the cost of the two-storied vice chancellor and pro-vice chancellor bungalows has been estimated at Tk5 crore each. 

The four-storied guest house is expected to cost Tk5.5 crore, three security barracks Tk15 crore, medical centre Tk12 crore, four-storied teacher’s club Tk13 crore, football and cricket ground Tk79 crore, eight-lane track and field events Tk80 crore, five bridges Tk56 crore, boundary Tk200 crore, external electric line Tk16 crore, external water line Tk22 crore, internal roads Tk9 crore, surface drain Tk22 crore and waste disposal Tk14 crore. 

The cost of the 11-storied dormitories for 4,000 male and female students have been estimated at Tk403 crore, a 16-storied building for 120 junior teachers Tk166 crore, two 16-storied buildings for 240 senior teachers Tk280 crore, three 21-storied buildings for the staff Tk354 crore, four 21-storied departmental buildings Tk1,060 crore and the administrative building Tk171 crore. 

Campus mosque to cost 13 times more than govt mosques

A UGC official, who is also a member of the proposal committee, said that as per their findings with the religious affairs ministry, a five-storied mosque with a library and seminar costs Tk6 crores. However, the cost of the four-storied mosque has been estimated at Tk79 crore. 

When presented with the facts, the authorities included a temple along with the mosque in the budget. 

The UGC official said that supercomputers, used in high facility research centres abroad are not available in the country. Moreover, the authorities have failed to provide a satisfactory explanation for a swimming pool, a lecture stage, scholar plaza and sports complex. 

Given that it is not a sports-focused university, the UGC did not find a feasible explanation for a Tk79crore football field and a Tk80 crore eight-track lane. 

An official of the regulatory body wishing to remain unnamed says that while they agree with the allocation of Tk38 crore for land procurement and development, they thought that the construction costs and other expenses were overboard. 

‘Not final’

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Digital University Vice-Chancellor Dr Munaz Ahmed Noor says that the estimate is not a final one. 

“We made the necessary corrections in the DPP that UGC asked. They sent it to the education ministry after that,” he said. 

“But its not final. It still has to go through pre-Ecnec (Executive Committee of the National Economic Council) and Ecnec after the education ministry approves it. 

Responding to queries on several expenses including that of the swimming pool and sports complex, he said: “Our concerned department is working on it. I will make no further comments.”

The education ministry’s Secondary and Higher Education Division Additional Secretary Dr Md Amzad Hossain declined to comment on the matter. 

The Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Digital University law was approved on July 26, 2016. After that Noor was appointed as the VC on June 12, 2018 who was then a professor at the Bangladesh Engineering University civil engineering department. 

Noor’s term as VC will come to an end on June 11, 2022.