Yet after appointing a foreign firm as contractor and selecting project area, Bangladesh Railway (BR) has failed to initiate a priority project thanks to its ignorance about the ownership of the project land. Under the “Upgradation of Dhaka-Narayanganj dual-gauge project,” the BR authorities selected a stretch of land in Narayanganj and requested police to clear the area by helping the demolition of several high-rise buildings. The BR also appointed the Power Construction Corporation of China (Powerchina) to implement project works in the area.
However, over the past two years, all the BR efforts have gone down the drain as the deputy commissioners office in Narayanganj has informed the BR authorities that some locals are actual owners of the land and have built such buildings in the last 39 years.
Receiving this information, the BR has stopped its planned eviction drives in the areas. And as the project work remains stall in Narayanganj for two years, activities of the whole project also remain halted without any progress.
The BR authorities are now planning to shift the project to another place.
But the railway ministry and contractor Powerchina, have expressed their dissatisfaction in this regard.
Some quarters have already raised the question as to why the BR does not know its land and why did it try to implement the project on private land. At the same time, they have also expressed skepticism about the efficiency of railway ministry officials as they designed the plan.
After being informed about the matter by the contractor, the railways minister asked the secretary of his ministry to take steps to implement the prime ministers priority project. After getting ministers instruction, the secretary held a meeting and asked the authorities concerned to prepare a report in this regard.
Now, the implementation of the project is hanging in the balance. However, the
authorities are still trying to implement the project partially.
Al Masudur Rahman Fattah, director of the Upgradation of the Dhaka-Narayanganj dual-gauge project, told The Independent that they did not know that the land was not their property.
“We prepared the Development Project Proposal (DPP) of the project hurriedly, thinking that the land was ours. It was a great mistake,” he said.
“The land was acquisitioned for the BR in 1882. We thought that the BR is its owner. But the ownership changed after the revisional settlement (RS) and central settlement (CS) khatiyan,” he added.
Fattah also said that the BRs estate wing does not possess any map of the land. “We collected the maps from the DC office of Narayanganj,” he added.
“Now we are planning to shift the station of the project at the river bank in Narayanganj. And thats why we are planning to hold a meeting with the high-ups of the Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC) to settle the land dispute,” he claimed.
When contacted, Md Mofazzel Hossain, secretary of railway ministry, expressed his frustration over the activities of the BR. “Officials should visit the spot before preparing the design of any project,” he added.
“Now, we are trying to find out an alternative way to resolve the problem,” he said.
The BR and the Power Construction Corporation of China Limited signed an agreement to construct the Dhaka- Narayanganj dual-gauge rail upgradation project at a cost of Tk. 378.66 crore on June 19, 2017. The project involves the construction of a rail link from Dhaka to Narayanganj district, about 20 km away from the capital. Under the project, a dual-gauge track will be laid parallel to the existing meter-gauge track. Once the track is laid, the BR will be able to transport nearly 100,000 passengers on the route every day against its current capacity of 23,000 commuters.
The construction is scheduled to be completed by June 2019.