Metro rail route diverted to save Parliament land

The proposed metro rail will pass through the alternative Khamarbari route instead of Bijay Sarani to bypass the National Parliament Complex, as suggested by the Bangladesh Air Force.

After a meeting with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Dhaka Transport Coordination Board (DTCB) executive director Dr SM Salauddin told The Independent on Wednesday that they had chalked out a new route which would possibly need only the footpath on the eastern side of the Parliament complex.
Following a JICA ultimatum last Wednesday to finalize the metro rail route within seven days, experts from DTCB and JICA have been holding several meetings for the past one week to chart a new route that would bypass the Parliament complex.

 

“The new route would almost bypass the Parliament complex and won’t take up 55 metres of land on the east side garden of the complex, as was required as per the original route. Then we thought some pillars would have to be put up on the eastern side of the Sangsad Bhaban complex as the metro rail would require an adequate turning radius there. Now we have revised the route design and figured out that we need to construct only two pillars on the footpath outside the complex,” Dr Salauddin said.
The JICA team has seen and agreed on the new route design, he said adding, they will send their experts here on September 15 to finalize the details. “We will also  have a word with the BAF chief on this issue,” he added.
Dr Salauddin said talks with the JICA were going well. “JICA previously got a bit annoyed as the metro rail route had been changed thrice, but now, as the Prime Minister herself wants authorities to resolve the issue, JICA is now ready to disburse the US $1.7-billion loan.
“We have also sent letter to Rajdhani Unnyan Kortripokkho (RAJUK) seeking land on the northern side of Uttara Model Town for the metro rail depot,” he said.  According to the DTCB executive director, the depot was originally planned to be put up at Pallabi, but the Army asked the authorities to shift it farther north citing security as a reason, he said and pointed out that it had also saved land belonging to Mirpur cantonment.
Communications minister Syed Abul Hossain told The Independent on Wednesday that the route diversion and the relocation of the depot would send up the estimated project cost by 30 per cent.
“The estimated cost of the metro rail route project was $2.25 billion, of which JICA would have provided $1.7 billion at a 0.01 per cent interest rate.
Now due to the route diversion and relocation of the depot, the estimated cost has reached $2.8 billion,” he said.
JICA will not release more than $1.7 billion so the rest of the money has to be coughed up by the government, the minister pointed out.

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