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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Bangladesh to establish cantonment on both sides of Padma Bridge : Ecnec approves; returns proposal for relocating secretariat

Rejaul Karim Byron

The government is going to establish a full-blown cantonment on both sides of the Padma Bridge to ensure security to the largest ever structure to be built in the country.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) at a meeting yesterday approved Tk 750-crore “Establishment of 99 Composite Bridge for Safety and Security of Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project”.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina chaired the meeting held at the NEC conference hall at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar.
However, ECNEC suspended a proposal for building a secretariat complex beside the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar until the original design of the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban made by internationally reputed architect Louis I Kahn is collected.
Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal after the meeting said all the components of a fully-fledged cantonment would be there though it would be a brigade.
A planning ministry proposal says the under construction Padma Multipurpose Bridge is the biggest infrastructure in the country so far and will cost an estimated Tk 28,000 crore.
According to the proposal, the main cantonment will be built at Jazira point and minimum necessary structures will be constructed at Mawa point of the bridge.
The Bridges Division has proposed to provide 115.52 acres of land to the Armed Forces Division for the cantonment.
The army has informed the planning ministry that they need another 140 acres of land for the cantonment.
The ECNEC, however, has directed the Bridges Division to give another 20 acres of land to the army due to shortage of land.
An official of the planning ministry said 100 acres of land would be given at Jazira point and 35 acres at Mawa point.
A proposal to construct a secretariat complex at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar at a cost of Tk 2,210 crore was placed at the meeting and it was sent back.
The meeting made a suggestion that the secretariat complex should be built as per the original design of Louis I Kahn.
Insiders said an initiative was taken in 1974 to set up the secretariat complex at the Sher-e-Bangla Nagar site and an agreement was signed with US company David Wisdom and Associates.
But no further step was taken to that end later.
Planning Minister Mustafa Kamal yesterday told reporters after the meeting that the new secretariat would be constructed after collecting the original design of Kahn.
The meeting decided that the government would purchase Kahn's original design for $400,000 from Pennsylvania University in the US.
The secretariat complex would be constructed on the proposed site as per the original design.
An official who attended the meeting told The Daily Star that the premier said there might be distortion if the secretariat complex was built based on a copy of the original design.
Asked by the reporters if the grave of late president Ziaur Rahman would fall inside the proposed secretariat complex, the planning minister averted a direct reply and said they would build the complex as per the original design.
He said nothing could be said without seeing the original design. We would have to see if there is provision for one or more mazars in it. And for that, we would have to wait for the original design.
Speaking anonymously, a planning ministry official said the plan they had placed before the ECNEC meeting did not have Zia's grave inside the complex site.
According to the original design, a garden was proposed between the Sangsad Bhaban and the secretariat complex which is now the Chandrima Udyan, the official added.
The ECNEC also gave nod to a proposal for building flats for ministers and government officials.
For the ministers, a six-storey building consisting ten 5,500-square-foot flats would be constructed on Bailey Road in the capital.
Besides, 1,064 1,500-sft and 1,250-sft flats will be constructed for government employees in Mirpur in the capital at Tk 852 crore.
According to the planning ministry, 148,910 government officials and employees reside in the capital. Of them, 13,052 or only 8 percent officials enjoy housing facilities.
The ministry has proposed to make housing accommodation for 40 percent of the total employees by 2019. The government will construct ten 20-storey buildings on 10 acres of khas land in Mirpur.
The ECNEC also okayed a Tk 602-crore project to construct a 44-kilometre link road and bridge to connect Matarbari power plant with Cox's Bazar and Chittagong.
Apart from this, the ECNEC also approved a Tk 258-crore project titled Cluster Village-2nd phase. Under the project 10,000 houses will be built and given to cyclone and river erosion victims.

The planning minister said each family would get a 300-sft house with two rooms and one five-ring toilet built using RCC pillars. Each affected family would also be given a lump sum amount of Tk 15,000 for their rehabilitation, he added.

Source:  The Daily Star, 14 October 2015

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