Published:  12:00 AM, 10 January 2017

Dohazari-Gumdum Rail Line Project begins in March

The construction work of long cherished 129-km Dohazari-Gumdum Dual Gauge Rail Line Project is expected to begin by next March.
The construction work of long cherished 129-km Dohazari-Gumdum Dual Gauge Rail Line Project is expected to begin by next March. Bangladesh Railway (BR) invited tender for TK 18,034 crore Dohazari-Ramu-Cox's Bazar and Ramu to Gundum on Myanmar border dual gauge rail line project for establishing connectivity between tourist town Cox's Bazar and commercial capital Chittagong. Deputy Director (DD) of the project Mohammad Mofizur Rahman said nine  companies -- five from China and one each from Bangladesh, India, Spain and Korea submitted tenders for the project. "The appointment of consultants is in final stage and tender evaluation is going on promptly" DD said.
British government planned similar project 127 years ago in 1890. Later, the then Pakistan government conducted feasibility study in 1958 and Japan Railway Technical Service also conducted another feasibility study between February 11 and March 25 in 1971.

But the project remained shelved. After the independence of Bangladesh last round of feasibility study was conducted by the Awami League government when it came to power in 1996.  With the theme of 'One belt, one road', the present government as part of Trans Asian Railway has attached utmost importance on the project in order to build economic corridor with Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar.

Project design has been finalised after swift acquisition of land. Secretary of the Ministry of Railways Mohammad Feroz Salah Uddin recently informed the Chittagong District Administration that the project is being treated as one of the first tack projects of the Prime Minister. "Keeping this in view, we are working relentlessly to begin the implementation of the project by March next", the Railway Secretary added.

Of the total project cost, TK 6,034 crore will come from the national exchequer while the rest TK 12,000 crore (USD 1.5 billion) was approved by Asian Development Bank (ADB) in November last. ADB will release $1.5 billion in four phases for the Trans Asian Rail Line Network under the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Railway Connectivity Investment Programme.

He said ADB will release $300 million (TK 2,400 crore) in first phase, $400 million (TK 3200 crore) in second phase, $500 million (TK 4,000 crore) in third phase and $300 million (TK 2,400 crore) in fourth phase. According to sources in the railway ministry, construction work of the project is likely to begin in March 2017 and it is expected to be completed by 2022 while the ADB team has completed the updated feasibility study of the project.

There will be 11 railway stations in around 129 km rail line which would go through Chandanaish, Satkania and Lohagara upazilas of Chittagong district, Chakaria, Ramu, Cox's Bazar Sadar, and Ukhiya upazilas of Cox's Bazar district and Gumdum upazila of Bandarban district.

Besides, a total of 52 major and 192 minor railway bridges and culverts, 118 level crossings, two underpasses and five overpasses for the movement of elephants would be constructed under the project. Under the project, an 88 km track will be constructed from Dohazari to Ramu, 12 km from Ramu to Cox's Bazar and another 28 km track from Ramu to Gundum of  Nakhyangchhari upazila of Bandarban on Myanmar border. BR sources said the project work got delayed due to the uncertainty of fund from the development partner and later, it was instrumental to set up a dual-gauge railway track instead of single line meter gauge one.

The project cost on account of conversion into dual-gauge now stands at TK 18,034 crore. On July 6, 2010, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved the project for constructing the single-line meter gauge railway track from Dohazari to Cox's Bazar via Ramu and Ramu to Gumdum. On September 9, 2014, the government decided to turn the single line meter track project into dual gauge project. At that time, the project cost increased to TK 18,034 crore. The project has to compensate to the people who will be affected due to the acquisition of some 1,742 acres of land.

According to the Planning Ministry, once the project is implemented, it would play an important role in raising the GDP growth, considering the economic hub of Chittagong and tourism capital Cox's Bazar.
According to BR sources the project will establish a link with Trans Asian Railway Corridor that aims to serve cultural exchanges, trade and commerce within the region of south-east Asia. -BBC

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