Tk 1,874 crore project to dredge 2,500km waterway gets final approval

September 5, 2012

Bangladesh is a country crisscrossed by some 310 rivers. After many years of processing the government has finally confirmed a budget for capital dredging in order to increase navigability of the rivers and also prevent floods. According to the project working paper agreed in last September (2012), the capital dredging project covers 24 of the country’s 53 river routes. Currently the country’s river ways have reduced to 6,000 kilometres, down from 24,000 in 1963. During monsoon the rivers carry about 2.4 billion silt, accounting for 19 percent of the total silt carried by the rivers across the world. Sedimentation affects movement of the water vessels, irrigation and aqua-culture. Flushing out flood water is also becoming difficult due to sedimentation. On the whole, it negatively reflects on the economy.

Accordingly, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) has approved a Tk 1,874 crore project to dredge 2,500km waterways to make them navigable throughout the year. The capital dredging was one of the seven projects involving a cost of Tk 4,648 crore. The ECNEC approved it at a meeting at the NEC conference center yesterday with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. Of the total cost, Tk 3,975 crore will be provided by the government while Tk 673 crore will come as project assistance. The other projects are Establishment of four marine academies in Bangladesh, Establishing fire service and civil defence stations at 156 Upazilla headquarters, Introduction of machine readable passport and machine readable visa in Bangladesh (2nd revised) project, English in action project, Teaching quality improvement-2 in secondary education and Conservation and improvement of native sheep through community farming and commercial farming project.

Earlier in May this year (2012) the government embarked on preparing a fifty to hundred years’ long “Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100″ to deal with issues like climate change, water resources management, river dredging and construction of embankment in a coordinated manner. With the assistance of the Dutch government, a Delta Commission was to be formed to implement the mega plan. Accordingly, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to this end in May 2012, intended to focus on strategic partnership in the fields of sustainable delta management, integrated water resources management, disaster management, and adaptation to climate change.

National Economic Council (NEC) is the highest political authority for consideration of development activities reflective of long-term national policies and objectives in Bangladesh. It serves as the economic mini-cabinet, consisting of the main economic ministers of the cabinet and headed by the Prime Minister. Generally, the ministries formulate their respective plans and programmes or projects as per objectives formulated by the NEC. It consists of all members of the Cabinet and is Prime Minitesr is the chaiperson.The NEC meets as when required, and in one particular meeting the attendance requirement depends on the subjects under consideration. Planning Division is the secretariat.

Functions of NEC:

1. To provide overall guidance at the stage of the formulation of Five Year Plans. Annual Development Programmes and Economic Policies.
2. To finalize and approve plans, programmes and policies.
3. To review progress of implementation of development programme.
4. To take such others decisions and actions as may be considered necessary for socio- economic development.
5. To appoint such committees as deemed fit to assist the NEC in the due discharge of its responsibilities.