Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today (January 09, 2023) said that the government is facing various challenges in regard to development projects in the country.
“Challenges arise when we go for any (development) work… We completed all the projects, facing these challenges,” she said.
The prime minister said this while delivering her introductory speech at the weekly Cabinet meeting, held at her office (PMO).
Talking about the Metro Rail project, she said that initially, in the feasibility study, the MRT route was designed to go through Bijoy Sarani.
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“If we went with that, we would’ve had to close down the Tejgaon airport which has a 9000 ft long runway. I was vehemently against that proposal,” she recalled.
In this connection, she said that during the 1998 flood, all the relief arrived at the Tejgaon airport as Dhaka airport in Kurmitola went under water.
She also said that the planetarium’s (at Bijoy Sarani) dome was much higher in the original design.
“We reduced that height. If the height goes beyond 60-70 ft, it will come under the airport funnel (of the Tejgaon airport),” she said.
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She told the Cabinet meeting that if the old alignment were used, the government would have to demolish 22 buildings.
“I proposed the new route, using the Khamar Bari area,” she said.
The PM also said that she extended the metro rail route up to Kamalapur from Bangladesh Bank.
“At that time, proposal was made to demolish Kamalapur Station for metro rail – for its turning and landing space,” she added.
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The PM said she told the officials concerned that it would not be wise to demolish such a big landmark and construct another.
“I asked them, how we could go ahead while keeping that (Kamalapur) station intact. If necessary, metro rail will go over the station or find another site for turning. Now it is done that way,” she said.
She also mentioned that the Metro Rail project faced resistance at Dhaka University area from the students, saying that it would destroy the academic atmosphere of the university.
“I assured them that there will be no disturbance due to the Metro Rail as it will go through a corner of the university area,” she said.
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The Metro Rail project came to a stop after the Holey Artisan attack, in which seven Japanese nationals involved with the project were killed.
“At that time, all Japanese people went back to their homeland. I expressed condolence at once to the then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and while visiting Japan, I met the family members of the seven deceased Japanese officials,” she said.
Later, she recalled, it was again stopped during the Covid-19 pandemic. “But at that time, the work progressed slowly, using the videoconferencing system,” she added.
Sheikh Hasina urged all to use metro rail cautiously and mindfully as it uses the most modern technology.
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“I will request all to use the (Metro) Rail with utmost care, as this is an asset of the whole country and its people,” she said.
She said that the government of Bangladesh is constructing an underpass to go from the airport railway station to the airport – for the convenience of passengers and Hajj pilgrims.