The metro-rail project sites are producing a large amount of dust and creating noise pollution, posing a risk to public health, said a report of the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) of the Ministry of Planning.
In a report published this week, IMED stated the Dhaka Mass Transport Company Ltd had failed to adequately implement the Environment Management Plan (EMP) of the metro-rail project.
The report also mentioned that heavy machinery is being used day and night, creating noise pollution in and around the sites. This noise pollution is affecting the health of city residents.
This mega-project extends from Uttara (Diabari) – Pallabi – Rokeyea Swarani – Khamarbari – Farmgate – Hotel Sonargaon – Shahbag – TSC – Doyel Chattar – Press Club to Motijheel.
The report mentioned that a huge amount of dust is being produced in the construction sites in Uttara, where the depots are being built. Even though the authorities have been spraying water to solve the problem, the report claimed that that it is not enough.
The IMED has proposed increasing the spraying of water in and around the sites.
It also urged the Dhaka Mass Transport Company Ltd (DMTCL), the project implementing company, to strictly conform to the EMP.
Last June IMED asked DMTCL to include the Environment Management Plan in their report, but complained later that the company had taken no action to do so.
The IMED report also mentioned waterlogging in different areas, including Kazipara, Shewrapara, Mirpur 10, Mirpur 11, where metro-rail stations will be built. It expressed concern that waterlogging can increase after the opening of the metro-rail because the drainage and sewerage lines in these areas are inadequate.
IMED has proposed modernising the sewerage system in these areas to keep the metro-rail stations clean.
A large portion of the work is being done on city streets, with a section of the streets being barricaded off. This has reduced the space for vehicles, causing bottlenecks in traffic. IMED has asked DMTCL to barricade off as little space as possible so as not to obstruct vehicles, and to repair the portion of the roads that have been damaged by the project.
"The metro-rail project is endangering public health by producing large amounts of dust. There are not enough precautions in place to reduce the risks. The project is one of the main reasons for the recent dengue outbreak," said Environmentalist Sayeda Rizwana Hasan.
"Government project implementation agencies think that they are above the law. Most of the projects do not comply with environment rules. They think they can cut trees indiscriminately in the name of development. Consequently, these private contractors dare to break environmental rules because of the indifference of the government," she added.
70 percent work to be done in less than 2.5 years to meet the 2021 deadline
Meanwhile, the report mentioned that only 30 percent of the project has been completed in more than seven years. Seventy percent of the work must be completed in less than two and a half years if the much-awaited transportation system is to be opened for public use in 2021.
According to a government declaration, the metro-rail will be inaugurated on the golden jubilee of independence on December 16, 2021.
IMED has asked the ministry concerned to supervise the project closely to ensure that it is completed on time.
An IMED report, published on August 24, says that five and a half kilometers of the elevated railway has become visible so far.
The report said 45.60 percent of the construction from Uttara to Agargaon has been completed, and 23.12 percent has been completed from Agargaon to Motijheel.
There will be 16 stations along the 19.20 km long metro-rail line.
Of the Tk21,985 crore cost of the project, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is providing Tk16,594 crore as a loan.
Originally, the project was scheduled to be finished in 2024. But Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had directed that service from Uttara to Agargaon should be made operational this year, and service from Agargaon to Motijheel by 2020.
The government declared the 2021 inauguration date after analysing the progress of the project. The DMTCL changed their work-plan in accordance with the decision.
"There are no complications over the metro-rail project now, and all the contractors are working accordingly. There is no chance of the project being delayed further." said Dr Shamsul Haque, transportation specialist and a professor at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.
He said that in the beginning there was a hurry to finish the project within 2019. The plan to acquire land around the metro-rail stations to make parking spaces was abandoned because of this.
"There must be enough space around the stations for parking. A station will be swarmed by more than one and a half thousand people at a time. So space is a must for parking rickshaws and cars," said Professor Haque.
He said only 17 percent of the people will use the metro-rail, and the roads will be used by 40 percent. So the process of acquiring land must be started right now.
"Otherwise, it will create traffic congestion on the roads, and the benefits of the mega project will be lost," he added.