Golam Mostafa Jibon: At least 24 government officials want to go abroad for a project under the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure the best use of surface water in Haor area through irrigation and produce additional food grains. This is why, around Tk 2 crore has been sought.
Apart from this, bridges will be constructed on canals at a cost of Tk 25 lakh each under the project. Besides, Tk 16.5 lakh will be spent against re-excavation and commissioning of each tubewell. But, unfortunately, the Planning Commission has raised questions about it and asked the ministry to review and rationalize the expenditures.
According to the project proposal, irrigation will be provided to about 13,000 hectares of land through this project. For this reason, some 24 officials will go to Canada, Netherlands, Egypt, Turkey, Japan or Germany to learn this irrigation work. The cost is estimated to be around Tk 2 crore against this visit. They will impart knowledge on irrigation to the farmers.
According to the proposal of the Ministry of Agriculture, Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. As a result of rapid urbanization, the amount of agricultural land is gradually decreasing.
On the other hand, food demand is upward to feed the growing population. Irrigation water shortages are widely observed during the dry season due to increased demand for water in the production of paddy, also the country’s staple food grain.
In this situation, the importance of irrigation water management in agriculture has come up. There is a plan to produce an additional 71,126 metric tons of food grains by ensuring the best use of surface water in Haor area through irrigation in 23 upazilas of Kishoreganj and Netrakona. Additional 12,932 hectares of land will be provided with irrigation facilities.
Ministry of Agriculture has proposed Minor Irrigation Development Project in Kishoreganj and Haor area of Netrakona district to modernize irrigation system and improve application of technology and irrigation efficiency, provide training to farmers in the project area.
A total cost of Tk 447.20 crore has been estimated for the implementation of the project. Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation will be responsible for implementing the project in five years. The works under the project are re-excavation of 130 km of canals, construction of 110 km of Gopat, construction of 10 threshing cum sunning floors, dredging of 5 km approach canals from river, construction of 200 minor irrigation infrastructures, 150 medium irrigation infrastructures or canal crossings. Construction of bridges, replacement or re-excavation of 60 deep tube wells, construction of 421 km of underground irrigation canals, construction of 150 pump houses, construction of 210 power lines, construction of 780 water discharge paths along the canals to complete a total of 26 activities. It can be seen from the review of the cost estimate given in the proposal, the engineers and officials involved in the project will go on training or educational tour abroad to gain knowledge about this irrigation.
Some 8 people in three groups, a total of 24 people will go to six European countries. The cost for them has been estimated at Tk 1.92 crore involving Tk 8 lakh per head.
The Planning Commission has objected to this tour in the name of foreign training at the moment of economic crisis, where these have been stopped by government gazette, travel abroad to learn about irrigation is unpredictable.
The project involves construction of bridges over 150 canals, which are for crossing only. And the cost for each of these bridges has been estimated at Tk 25 lakh. The total expenditure in this sector will be Tk 37.5 crore, which is more than the cost of foot-over bridge in the city, according to commission officials.
Again, Tk 9.90 crore will be spent on tubewell re-digging and commissioning for 60. The cost of each of them is Tk 16.50 lakh.
On the other hand, construction of 200 small irrigation infrastructures will cost Tk 14.93 crore. Here the cost of each one is around Tk 7.5 lakh. Apart from this, the cost of re-excavating the canal per kilometer is Tk 22 lakh and the cost of 130 km is Tk 286 million. Expenditure on dredging of 5 km link canal is Tk 2.20 crore. Here the cost per kilometer is Tk 44 lakh.
Mamun-al-Rashid, Secretary of the Planning Department said, “We have to cancel such foreign tours or training. Now there is no need such as tour.”
Regarding the cost of building a bridge over the canal, he said, we have to see how wide the canal is. With what kind of material and at what height these bridges will be constructed. The cost of the bridge depends on it. We analyze every cost in PEC.
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