Although 98 percent works against the allocation under the Ashrayan-3 project has completed, the relocation of one lakh Rohingya refugees from Cox's Bazar to Bhasan Char island is yet to begin.
Now, the scheme is going to be extended for additional two years with some added works. This will push up the project cost from Tk2,312 crore to Tk3,095 crore, a surge by Tk782.8 crore or nearly 34 percent from the primary allocation.
The proposal will be placed before the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) meeting on Tuesday for final approval.
The height of the embankment in the project area has been proposed to raise to 19 feet from 9 feet. Similarly, numerous other works including constructions of cluster villages, shelter stations, water channelling infrastructure, roads and land development have been added to the existing 26 works under the project.
Apart from this, as many as 43 new works including construction of two buildings for the United Nations (UN) representatives, construction of two jetties, digging of lakes, setting up of RCC ramps and construction of culverts are going to be added to the Ashrayan-3 project.
The Prime Minister's Office sent a proposal with an estimated cost of Tk3,170.47 crore to the Project Evaluation Committee (PEC) at the Planning Commission.
Spending for the Development Project Proposal (DPP) dropped by Tk75 crore as the PEC meeting disagreed on several expenditures.
Sources said the Planning Commission disagreed on the construction of two four-storey buildings for representatives from the UN and other international organisations.
The Planning Commission, however, approved the construction with a condition. According to the condition, no agreement will be signed with contractors for the construction of the buildings before the refugees are relocated.
Zakir Hossain Akanda, member of the Agriculture, Water Resources and Rural Institution Division of the Planning Commission, doubted the future use of the infrastructures.
At the PEC meeting he said, "The repatriation process is on. Moreover, international groups including the United Nations are concerned over the relocation."
"How the infrastructures will be used for Rohingyas amid such objections? Even if the relocation takes place, when will actually those buildings be used?" he questioned the project officials.
The project director at the meeting came up with the response that the infrastructures could be used as an economic zone or a tourist spot if the relocation attempt fails.
Prasanta Kumar Chakraborty, head of the Agriculture, Water Resources and Rural Institution Division, told The Business Standard, "We could use those buildings even after the Rohingya refugees return to their country."
The Ashrayan-3 Project began in December 2017 and was scheduled to conclude in November 2019. With the time extension and added works, the project will now continue till November 2021.
Till October last, 97 percent physical works of the project completed with 98 percent spending (Tk2,265 lakh) against the allocation.
The PEC meeting minutes said some buildings at the island are currently being used by some staffers of government and international organisations.
Planning Commission Member Zakir Hossain said rootless people of the country could later be rehabilitated to the island once Rohingyas return to Myanmar.
Considering the fact, the project proposal has been recommended to be tabled in the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council meeting, he added.