The Roads and Highways Department (RHD) has failed to complete a 15.5-kilomtre road widening project in two years' time.
The department has now sought revision of the project titled the Nilphamari-Saidpur road-widening project seeking additional fund, equivalent to the original allocation. It has also sought extension of the project life for another two years.
The RHD has recently sought an additional amount of Tk 2.17 billion from the Planning Commission (PC). The cost of the project was estimated at Tk 2.26 billion earlier.
Higher than estimated cost of land acquisition, officials concerned said, has forced the RHD to seek the additional fund.
In the revised proposal, the RHD has sought Tk 6.99 million as cost of acquiring a bigha of land and compensation for the expansion project.
Meanwhile, local people in Nilphamari told the FE that land prices in the areas in question are much lower than the estimated costs proposed by RHD.
According to the revised proposal, the RHD has sought Tk 3.13 billion for acquiring 20 hectares (149.52 bighas) and compensation for the affected people.
In its revised proposal, the RHD has sought an amount nearly three times more than the estimated cost of Tk 1.10 billion for acquiring land and payment of compensation.
When asked, RHD Dinajpur circle superintending engineer Mohammad Abdul Halim said they have estimated land acquisition cost based on land prices, given by Nilphamari deputy commissioner's (DC) office.
The overall acquisition cost has jumped to Tk 3.13 billion in the revised estimation as they had to pay three times higher than original mouza rates to the landowners, he added.
Anisul Islam, a Nilphamari resident, said land prices along the Syedpur-Nilphamari highway could be a maximum of Tk 9.0-10 million per bigha and Tk 4.0-5.0 million in rural areas.
Not more than one-fifth of the total 15.5km highway is situated in the town area, local people told the FE.
About the delay in work, Mr Halim said DC office handed them only one-fourth of the required land only six months ago for the road-widening project.
"We have still to get the rest of the land for the project," he told the FE.
"A couple of months ago, DC office gave us the price estimation of the two-thirds of the required land for the road project."
"It has so far failed to hand over the remaining land," the engineer added.
"The delayed land acquisition has also delayed project implementation. But we hope after revision, the entire work will be done by the next two years."
Mr Halim said they had completed some 35 per cent of the total physical work on road upgradation to date.
Meanwhile, the RHD has now proposed to spend Tk 285.52 million for widening each kilometre of the 15.5km road in its revised proposal.
In the original Tk 2.26-billion project proposal, it estimated to spend Tk 145.8 million for the same work.
According to the insiders, the cost of this highway expansion will be one of the highest in such work globally.
The RHD has spent Tk 198.80 million to build each kilometre of Dhaka-Chittagong four-lane highway, the country's main economic and trade corridor, they said.
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