Upgrading the 190-kilometre road from Tangail's Elenga to Modern Intersection in Rangpur is facing disruption due to delays in land acquisition as some infrastructures, including mosques, have not been relocated yet even after getting compensation from the government.
According to people concerned, if the problem is not solved soon, it would not be possible to complete the project on time, increasing construction cost.
The road is being upgraded into four lanes as part of eight highways of 600km length to be added with South Asia's Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) road connection project and the proposed economic corridor between Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM) to expand trade and commerce.
The Roads and Highways Department is constructing the road with the financial assistance of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) under the SASEC project.
According to SASEC sources, about 51% of the work on the four-lane highway has been completed. However, the work has not started in the area east of the Bangabandhu Bridge.
Besides, the district administration in Gaibandha has not yet given any estimate of land acquisition for 30 acres of land needed for the highway in Govandaganj and Palashbari.
Oliur Rahman, deputy commissioner of Gaibandha, said, "The authorities have taken the matter of land acquisition very seriously."
The 190 km road is being divided into nine sections for which Tk11,899crore was estimated in 2016. However, the cost of the project has been revised to Tk16,662crore due to some additional works.
According to officials, only 30% of the upgradation work of the 22.5 km road from Sherpur in Bogura to Banani in Shahjahanpur has been completed as the authorities could not acquire land. This part of the road is being upgraded under project-8 by a company named CPCL Tantia JV.
As per the officials, the authorities have not been able to acquire around six acres of land owned by 75 individuals and organisations including several mosques.
Sheikh Saadi, president of Park Ground Ahle Hadith Jame Mosque, said, "Our mosque has been built on a donated property. A local man has donated the property that he got from the government. The DC office says no one can sell land acquired from the government before 25 years. But he donated the land for the mosque within 12 years. Due to this confusing situation we did not receive any compensation for the acquisition. That is why the mosque was not removed."
Jahidul Haque Arju, president of Shalukgari Jame Mosque, Shahjahanpur said, "We have not received any money for land acquisition. But we received about Tk2 crore for the installation of the mosque. However, we are relocating the mosque."
Mamun Kaiser, manager of project-8, said, "Most of the installations in the area have been removed. But there are problems with some sensitive organisations. We hope the issue will be solved soon."
Shamsuzzoha, project manager of CPCL Tantia JV, the contractor company, said, "It is not possible to say when the construction work will be completed. The cost will also go up due to these complications."
The same situation can be seen in the project-9 area (Banani to Mokamtala) as the land of 12 organisations, including five mosques, have not yet been acquired.
Shahidul Islam Nantu, president of Naodapara Garer Bari Jame Mosque, which has not been relocated, said, "There has been a dispute between the land owner and the mosque committee. A case in this regard is pending in the court. The matter will be resolved after the court verdict."
However, SASEC authorities say all the money to acquire these lands has already been given to the deputy commissioner.
Afif Rahman Chowdhury, deputy manager of the project-9 area, said, "The work is being hampered due to complications with the land of some mosques. It will not be possible to complete the construction work on time."
Waliur Rahman, project manager of SASEC road connection project, said, "Most of the mosques are waqf property. For this reason, they have been given money. However, the cooperation of the district administration has been sought to resolve this issue."