The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) is likely to approve a mega project on Thursday, aiming to protect around 2.5 million people in the country’s north-western region from erosion by the Jamuna River and thus help them gain the capacity of overcoming devastation of floods.Ecnec chairperson and Prime Minster Sheikh Hasina will preside over the meeting to be held at the NEC conference room.
Talking to UNB, a high official at the Planning Commission said the proposed project titled ‘Bangladesh’s River Management Improvement Programme (Phase-1)’ involves an estimated cost of Tk 5,200 crore aiming to benefit around 2.5 million people living along the country’s river banks.
Bangladesh Water Development Board under the Ministry of Water Resources will implement the proposed project by December 2020.
Out of the total project cost, the World Bank is expected to provide Tk 4,800 crore while the rest of Tk 400 crore to be provided by the government, said the official.
He said the project would be implemented at Sirajganj Sadar and Kazipur upazilas in Sirajganj district, while Sariakandi and Dhunot upazilas in Bogra district.
The project has been framed based on a survey conducted by international consultant under the ‘Emergency 2007 Cyclone Recovery and Restoration Project (ECRRP)’ financed by the World Bank.
The main objectives of the project include ensuring socioeconomic development of the project areas, development of flood and river erosion management system, improvement of operations and maintenance activities of the Water Development Board, assessing structural and non-structural loss of the erosion-prone areas on priority basis and thus improve their tolerance level.
Besides, some 15 resettlement villages or cluster villages would be set up for rehabilitating the affected people.
Talking to UNB, another official at the Economic Relations Division (ERD) said the World Bank and the government of Bangladesh completed negotiations for the $600 million assistance for the River Management Improvement Program-Phase 1 on August 12 last.
The official said the World Bank Board is likely to approve the fund by December next and the project aims to increase protection against river flooding and erosion and improve flood and erosion management capacity along selected sections of the Brahmaputra River.
He said the programme would be phased into three projects including structural and nonstructural interventions.
The first phase of the programme would focus on improving flood and erosion control stretching from Sirajganj’s Simla to Bogura’s Hasnapara, and is exposed to high rates of erosion.
The beneficiaries of the project will be 2.5 million people living along the riverbank. This will include farmers, predominantly small and marginal, whose livelihoods are threatened by floods.
Another official at the ERD said the proposed $ 600 million fund would be provided from the IDA, the World Bank’s concessionary arm, with a service change of 0.75 percent to be repaid in 38 years with a grace period of six years.
Planning Commission officials said out of the estimated project cost, Tk 601.32 crore would be spent on consultant services, Tk 419.02 crore on land acquisition, Tk 900.62 crore on constructing and reconstructing embankment, Tk 2110.61 crore on riverbank protection and Tk 143.67 crore on setting up cluster villages.
Under the first phase of the programme, there will be reconstruction of 50 kilometers embankments along the right side of the Jamuna River alongside construction of 36.56 kilometers of protection embankment with a service road for river training along the right side of the Jamuna River.
In the second phase of the programme, there will be 17 kilometers of embankment reconstruction from Jamuna Bridge to Simla of Sirajganj and 70 kilometers of embankment reconstruction from Hasnapara of Bogra to Teesta outfall.
In the third phase, there will be construction of 137 kilometers of four-lane roads along the inner part of the embankment.