The Financial Express

Fast tracking some projects  

Published: January 16, 2020 22:12:05 | Updated: January 18, 2020 22:36:51

Fast tracking some projects   

The meeting of the 'fast-track monitoring committee' under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister couldn't have been timelier. The fast track projects are ten in number, and of vital national importance. No doubt once the projects are completed, people's lives will be better, but now as these are executed, there are a host of problems that prevail around. However, more projects from various ministries are vying for a place in the category of fast track implementation which may be concerning.

Of the projects, the Matarbari 1200 MW coal-fired power plant is destined to give rise to a dozen and a half of other fast track-projects in the island of Maheshkhali for the ostensible reason that the power generated in an island must be utilised to full capacity at the surrounding areas in the first place. Besides, their proximity to the Bay of Bengal brings them within the ambit of international trade. Of the existing ten, the floating LNG terminal project at Maheshkhali has already started operation. Others like the Padma Bridge, Rooppur nuclear power plant and the Uttara-Matijheel metro rail project have been slated to be gaining momentum. A few of the projects are behind track, like Dohazari-Gundhum rail line, Paira deep sea port and Padma Bridge railway link. The reason for this is not known to the wider public. The desire of the concerned ministry to include metro-rail-1 and metro-rail-5 in the list of fast track implementation is understandable. For quite some time now, these two projects have become obstacles to the people's movement, let alone being an optical discomfort. They, like quite a few other projects, have been creating among other things air quality degradation, besides traffic congestion. So their inclusion in the fast track remains a matter of urgency. If the PM-headed committee gives a nod to their inclusion in the fast track, people will only be happy.

The government's position that Bangladesh is on track to attain all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) should also hold good for all the mega projects stated above, because economic development in a closely-knit country like Bangladesh does not advance in isolation. For example, a completed Padma Bridge or a functional Paira Port will send tidings of opportunities throughout the whole country and population. Time is the important factor here. The PM's involvement in the fast track projects shows how things have been taken seriously at the top level. Conversely, it also shows project implementation is sluggish and leisurely at other areas and tiers. If the head of the government has to give time to project implementation, it would mean the huge bureaucracy that works in various ministries and departments and in the Planning Commission has some explaining to do. The late flurry of fund release in June every financial year proves without doubt that things have not changed much over time, despite the best efforts of a few. Let not only a handful, but everyone involved apply due diligence so that a fast track for a few project is not needed and that the whole gamut of projects, hundreds in number, becomes fast track, or gets on rather equally speedy track. Indeed, no project should be on slow track at all. The fast Track Project Monitoring Committee nonetheless deserves praise for what it is doing.

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