The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is interested to fund $1.5 billion for building a rail track between Chittagong’s Dohazari and Ukhia bordering Myanmar as part of a larger Trans-Asian Railway network.The project to set up rail communication with Myanmar was approved in 2010 but has been on hold due to lack of funds.“The ADB has been prioritising Bangladesh’s policy for development through regional connectivity,” said Economic Relations Division (ERD) joint secretary (ADB branch) Saifuddin Ahmed.“The project under Trans-Asian Railway corridor will set up rail links with Myanmar. The ADB wants to fund it because of its tremendous prospect.” About 100 km of tracks will connect Dohazari, Ramu, Cox’s Bazar and another 28 km will go until Ukhia’s Ghumdhum under the project.“We’ve had two meetings with the ADB mission on this project. The ADB has agreed to give $1.5 billion in loan at two percent interest.”The ADB in its conditions said the tracks needed to be dual gauge and underpasses must be built to make sure elephant corridors were not disturbed.
The government, which had approved 128 kilometres of single and meter gauge track, is now preparing to renew the design. “The government will have to double its land requisition plan. Project cost will also go up to build dual gauge tracks,” said Planning Commission’s joint chief Nazrul Islam Sarker. He said 690 hectares of land would be acquired and rehabilitation measures would be taken up for the displaced people.“The ADB gave us a condition saying elephants pass through Cox’s Bazar’s hilly area. We’ll have to make sure that their safety is not compromised.”On the route nine stations will be set up at Satkania, Lohagora, Chakaria, Dulahazra, Ramu, Eidgah, Cox’s Bazar and Ukhia.There will be 47 bridges, 149 concrete box culverts and 52 concrete pipe culverts on the route.The Trans-Asian Railway network aims to connect countries within Asia and Europe to promote cultural exchanges and trade.India has shown interest in setting up the rail network and began constructing a 346- km rail track to connect Manipur’s Jiribam with Myanmar’s Kalai.