The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on Tuesday approved a Tk1,209.60 crore supporting project to upgrade the Hatirjheel-Rampura Bridge-Banasri-Shekherjaiga-Amulia-Demra Highway into four lanes.
The project, to be implement under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) initiative, will help ease traffic in the Sayedabad and the Jatrabari areas of Dhaka. The highway upgrade will also reduce gridlock for those journeying from Dhaka to Sylhet and Chattogram.
The approval came from a meeting at the NEC Conference Room in the city's Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area, with Ecnec Chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
The project has been approved in the heated environment of the forthcoming Dhaka city elections slated for February 1.
Speaking on the issue after the meeting, Planning Minister MA Mannan told The Business Standard, "Work on the approved highway upgrade project will not start anytime soon. It will be implemented as a supporting project.
"So, this project will not have any impact on the upcoming city polls. No electoral laws are being broken because of the project."
Meanwhile Planning Secretary Nurul Amin said, "After a project gets initial approval, it then needs approval from the administration before implementation starts. There is no possibility of getting the administration's approval before the city polls."
The Ecnec has approved a total of nine projects involving an estimated cost of Tk4,324 crore. For those projects, Tk4,249 crore will come from the government exchequer, Tk5.68 crore from the implementing organisations and Tk70crore from foreign aid.
Planning Minister MA Mannan said, "The prime minister has directed us to buy modern equipment, and to develop skilled manpower in ministries and departments concerned, so that this equipment is not left unused. Skilled personnel will be appointed to provide training."
The Ecnec also approved Tk114 crore for buying vehicles and machinery for the Rangpur City Corporation, Tk66 crore for the construction of Rajshahi WASA Bhaban, Tk959 crore for the Bhandal-Juri water supply project.
A total of Tk794 crore for a dredging project in the inner bar of the Mongla Port channel and Tk449 crore for upgrading the Narayanganj Link Road into a six-lane highway have also been approved.
Ecnec also approved agricultural development in Rajshahi Division through extension of modern technology with Taka 147.03 crore, and protection of one bank of the Surma River near the Doarabazar upazila parishad complex, and in Rokkhibaor and Betura under Sunamganj district with Taka 191.67 crore.
A total of Tk394.47 crore has been allocated for dredging the Arial Kha River and protecting its banks in Shibchar upazila under Madaripur district.