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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Saturday, November 10, 2012
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Cox's Bazar rail project limping

Land acquisition stalled for fund shortage

More than one and a half years have gone by since the formal inauguration of the construction work of the Dohazari-Cox's Bazar rail track and the land acquisition for the project is yet to get underway.

Officials in Bangladesh Railway (BR) attributed the delay to a dearth of fund.

The budget for acquiring 1,412 acres of land was fixed at Tk 312 crore, but the government so far has released only Tk 10 crore, a high official of the BR (east zone) told The Daily Star, seeking anonymity.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the construction work at Jhilongjha in Cox's Bazar on April 3 last year to connect Bangladesh with other Southeast Asian countries through the Trans-Asian Railway (TAR) network.

The project is scheduled to be completed by December next year. The cost of laying 128 km rail track from Dohazari in Chittagong to Gundum in Myanmar via Ramu in Cox's Bazar was estimated at Tk 1,852 crore.

Of the amount, the government was supposed to provide Tk 670 crore, while the rest was expected to come from project aid. But the authorities initially failed to obtain any aid.

Later, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) agreed to fund the scheme. The donor would release any fund only after it completes the new feasibility study initiated last month.

The first feasibility study, though, for the project was completed in 2001. Using it as a guideline, the ADB is now carrying out the new study.

Contacted, project director Khairul Alam declined to comment on the delay in the project.

The BR would prepare the detailed design of the project after completion of the feasibility study by the ADB, he mentioned.

Tafazzal Hossain, general manager of the BR (east zone), said the cost of the project would increase significantly as the prices of land and construction materials have gone up.

Under the scheme, there will be two meter gauge lines -- one 100km line will link Dohazari with Ramu and the other 28km track will run from Ramu to Gundum in Myanmar. At present, there is a railway link up to Dohazari from Chittagong.

The route will also include four bridges on the rivers of Sangu, Matamuhuri, Shankha and Bakkhali and new stations at Satkania, Dulahazra, Chakoria, Eidgaon, Ramu, Cox's Bazar, Ukhiya and Gundum.

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