Padma bridge work stalled

Earth filling work of the Padma Bridge project at Kumarvog point under Louhoganj upazila of Munshiganj was stopped on Saturday following demand of extortion from the contractor by the extortionists belonging to the ruling party, it is alleged.

Local sources said at least 200 workers of bridge project have stopped their works as the contractor was threatened by the extortionists to pay them the extortion money.

Noor Mohammad, the contractor of Padma Bridge project told The New Nation on Saturday that some extortionists belonging to the ruling party demanded Tk 1 crore for smooth running of works of the bridge project.

Otherwise, they threatened that they would not allow the workers to stay in the project site. As a result, at least 200 workers left the project site on Saturday.

The contractor has already informed the matter to the Padma Bridge project authority and the law enforcing agencies.

Golam Kibria, second officer of Louhoganj Police Station told this reporter on Saturday that the construction firm– Khan & Sons– is the authorised contractor for earth filling. This firm distributes works to the local contractors.

One local resident Shapon has protested filling pipe line to his land. For that the contractor claimed it as ‘demand for extortion’, the police officer said.

Meanwhile, the World Bank has proposed the government to form a separate independent body to ensure transparency in financing the $2.9 billion Padma Bridge project.

The World Bank’s media team led by AR Anny visited the project site on Saturday to see the progress of the works. But to utter their surprise, they found no workers on the site. The Padma bridge will connect the southwest region with the rest of the country and Dhaka will get closer to nearly all destinations by about 100 kilometres. It will be a 6.15-kilometre long double-deck steel truss four-lane bridge, and a single rail track will be there on the bottom deck.

The government has so far compensated 1,400 households out of the total affected 13,500 households. Some 1,200 hectares of land have been acquired for the project.

The affected households of the bridge project under Zazira Upazila of Sharitpur district arranged human chain on Saturday and demanded real cost from the authorities.

The Shariatpur district administration has acquired 667,000 decimal lands for the Padma Bridge project in Shariatpur site. The government provided Tk 4,993 per decimal while the NGO– CCDB– provided TK 18,000 per decimal.

Netai Chandra Sen, additional deputy commissioner of Shariatpur told our local correspondent that the affected households were being given genuine cost of their lands according to the government rules.

But the residents of Mawa in Munshiganj district are getting higher cost for their lands than Shariatpur district, he added.

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