The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on Thursday approved a project involving Tk 4,635.91 crore to introduce higher technology-based e-passports to make Bangladeshi passports safer, more secure and acceptable to other countries across the world.
It also cleared 14 other projects, including one with a Tk 1,400-crore additional allocation to acquire 1,162.67 more hectares of land for the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project.
The approval came from an Ecnec meeting held at the NEC conference room with Ecnec Chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
“The Ecnec meeting approved a total of 15 projects with an estimated cost of Tk 18,372.24 crore,” Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said while briefing reporters after the meeting.
Of the projects, nine are new while the rest are revised ones.
About the allocation of additional Tk 1,400 crore for the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project, the minister said the money was approved as it needs to acquire more land temporarily for 25 years for the river management in the bridge site.
The Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project (2nd revised) is being implemented as a fast-track project with an estimated cost of Tk 28,793.38 crore. The project is scheduled to be implemented by December next.
Three out of five components of the project works — Janzira connecting road, Mawa connecting road and Service Area-2 — have already been completed, the minister said, adding that work on the main bridge construction and the river training is now underway.
Turning to the e-passport project, Mustafa Kamal said it has been approved to issue e-passports alongside the existing Machine Readable Passports (MRPs) to accommodate international demand as some countries, including Germany, do not accept MRPs.
The project titled “Introduction of e-Passport and Automated Border Control Management in Bangladesh” will be implemented from July 2018 to June 2028 with the finance of the government, he said.
The 13 remaining projects include Establishment of Kushtia Medical College Hospital (1st revised) Project involving an estimated cost of Tk 611.08 crore; Introduction of Countrywide Digital Terrestrial Broadcast (1st Phase) Project involving Tk 250 crore; Providing Primary Health, Reproductive Health and Nutrition Services to Disadvantaged Women and Children in 21 Districts Project with Tk 98.34 crore; Blue Gold Programme (BWDB Component): Programme for Integrated Sustainable Economic Development by Improving the Water and Productive Sectors in Selected Polders (1st Revised) Project involving Tk 663.08 crore; Establishment of Digital Land Management System (DLMS) through Digital Survey and Settlement Operations of Three City Corporations, One Pourasava and Two Rural Upazilas of Bangladesh Project involving Tk 351.86 crore.
Local Government Initiative on Climate Change (LoGIC) Project involving Tk 167.20 crore; Expansion of South-Western Power Transmission Grid involving Tk 3,273.88 crore; Construction of Underground Substation in Karwanbazar under DPDC Project involving Tk 950.40 crore; Long-term Service Agreement for Bheramara Combined Cycle Power Plant Project involving Tk 652.49 crore; Construction of Railway Double Line Track between Laksam and Chinki Astana (3rd revised) Project involving Tk 1,819.55 crore; Construction of Railway Double Line with Signalling System between Tongi and Bhairab (3rd revised) Project involving Tk 2,175.90 crore; Construction of Itna-Mithamoin-Austagram Road (1st revised) Project involving Tk 874.08 crore; and Establishment of Logistics and Fleet Maintenance Facilities for Bangladesh Coastguard Project involving Tk 448.47 crore were also approved at the Ecnec meeting.