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Bangladesh - Bank & Finance - 3 weeks ago

Feasibility checks at end of project period

Indian debt in Railways

Farhad Chowdhury: The 57 km railway from Parbatipur in Dinajpur to Kaunia in Rangpur is to be laid with Indian loan. The six-year project expires in 2023. The project has not started yet. Feasibility testing is still going on. It is supposed to end next December. Due to this, the new duration of the project has not been fixed yet.
According to the project sources, in this project as well, the lending institutions of Exim Bank of India wasted time in agreeing to various processes for the appointment of consultants. This resulted in the appointment of consultants towards the end of the proposed period. Apart from this, there is lack of coordination between Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Planning and Ministry of Finance. In January 2018, approval was given to convert existing meter gauge railways to dual gauge. The Railways is going to build a new dual gauge line along the old line by moving away from that decision.
In this context, the Director General of Railways, Sardar Shahadat Ali told, “Whether to dual gauge the existing line or to make a separate line – that was the matter of decision.” We discussed and decided to make a separate line. Because, if the line is broken, the cost will be less than the cost of building another line next to it.
According to railway sources, the cost of this project has been estimated at Tk 1,683 crores. Of this, Tk 1,376 crore will be given under India’s line of credit (LoC) or flexible loan agreement. Bangladesh will give the rest. However, the cost of the project may increase due to not being able to start the work on time.
The concerned officials said that the consulting firm was appointed on 25 August 2022. Bharatiya RV Associates and Stoop Consultants Limited will jointly act as consultants on the project. Its contract price is Tk 75 crore 84 lakh 66 thousand 290. They started working on January 15 last year. On their recommendation, instead of dual gauge the old meter gauge line, the railways decided to build a new dual gauge line next to it. The project can be completed at almost the same cost. However, the money was not received even though the project period has started. So, starting late.
Project Director and Railway West Additional Chief Engineer Ahsan Jabir told on June 24 that the feasibility study of the project is ongoing. Once this is completed, the detailed design work of the project will continue. When asked about the reason for the delay, he said, many things work here. When such a project proposal goes to the ministry, it has to go through many processes. In this case coordination is needed between Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Planning and Ministry of Finance. As the feasibility study is still going on, the new term has not been fixed. Once it expires, a new term will be fixed.
The role of this project is very important in the recently signed agreement with India on Bangladesh railways. The Railways says the Parbatipur-Kaunia section is the main railway line, which connects Rangpur divisional headquarters. The existing section was rehabilitated through a project from 1987 to 1992. At present the sleeper of this section has expired and other infrastructure materials are dilapidated. As a result, intercity trains and other trains are not running at proper speed through this section.
It is known that India’s railway line is broad gauge, in that case meter gauge should be changed for Indian train movement in Bangladesh. But the section from Parbatipur to Radhikapur in India and from Parbatipur to Kaunia is meter gauge. In this situation, it is not possible to establish inter-country railway communication through broad gauge lines through rare borders. For this, the project called ‘Conversion of meter gauge railway line from Parbatipur to Kaunia of Bangladesh Railway to dual gauge’ was undertaken. Balurghat-Hili-Parbatipur-Kaunia-Lalmonirhat-Mogalhat-Gitaldah Section. Again Radhikapur-Biral-Parbatipur-Kaunia-Gitaldah section. Important among these routes is Parbatipur-Kaunia.
When asked if there is any other plan connected with the delay in the project, Director General of Railways Sardar Shahadat Ali said, “There is no such possibility.” Many companies work here. Such loan schemes require a lot of work, which is time-consuming. So, there is no plan to opt out of it. Experience should be taken from here.

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