Tk 752.51 cr rural infrastructure improvement project being implemented

Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) has been implementing a big project aiming at enhancing the accessibility of the rural people to the markets and economic opportunities in the region.
The project will help widening the access to markets and economic opportunities will also boost the earnings, access to basic services like health and education of the rural poor.The six-year project titled “Sustainable Rural Infrastructure Improvement” is being implemented in 21 districts under Rajshahi, Rangpur and Khulna divisions at a cost of around Taka 752.51 crore including ADB’s loan worth of Tk 414 crore.According to the officials concerned, main thrust of the project is to increase rural income and to reduce rural poverty through sustainable economic growth, social and gender development and improving infrastructure in the project area.
Under the project, around 700 km of Upazila roads and 100 km of union roads are being upgraded bitumen standard to provide connectivity between agricultural production areas and growth center markets. The rural road network will ultimately promote overall development of the transportation system. Thereby, socio-economic condition of the rural people will be elevated by providing assistance for higher agricultural production and their marketing.It will also help the rural people in poverty reduction efforts by reducing the transport cost, developing marketing system, increasing sustainable agricultural production and creating short and long term employment opportunities in agricultural and nonagricultural sectors.Cross drainage structures, such as bridges and culverts with a total length of 3,270 meters are being constructed. Provisions for road safety such as road signs, delineators and bollards near the approach to the bridges and reflectors added to tree trunks and provision of loading and unloading zones were incorporated into the design of Upazila roads.Women belonging to labor contracting societies are engaged to improve road shoulders, embankment stabilization, planting trees on roadsides, planting of shrubs on embankment and other road maintenance works.Roadside tree plantation activities on the improved roads are progressing successfully that will ultimately help reduce carbon emission at a substantial level and that is very important to face the adverse impact of climate change in the region.The scheme has a provision of improving infrastructure of 92 Growth Center Markets (GCMs) including creation of 50 women markets. The markets will have various necessary privileges like paved trading areas, sheds, improved water supply system, adequate drainage facilities, sanitation facilities and market offices.Besides, long-term employment and business opportunities in around 500 shops and open stalls in GCMs will be created for women.Indirect project benefits likely to facilitate poverty reduction are increased in farm income, higher crop yields resulting from improvement in the availability and use of fertilizer and other inputs.Engineer Ali Akhtar Hossain, Director of the project, said that around 65 percent works on the project have so far been completed and its implementation would in fact further strengthen the overall activities of local government bodies.He said the project encourages women’s participation in tree plantation and care-taking activities including the development of rural markets and growth centres and off-pavement maintenance activities of developed roads and to ensure equal payment to women for same nature of work comparing with men.Besides, the scheme is working for capacity building and institutional development through providing training to the Union Parishad representatives, LGED Officials and community groups. Upon successful implementation by December, 2016, the project will contribute enormously to raise standard of living in the remote villages, Engineer Ali Akhtar added. -BSS, Rajshahi