Metro Rail Project: Air force concern unfounded

Experts object to its route change proposal; financier upset with delay, change
Bangladesh Air Force’s objection to the Bijoy Sarani portion of the proposed 22-km metro rail on a plea that it will hinder the operation of Tejgaon airfield is unfounded, experts have said.
The experts also rejected an alternative route, suggested by the air force, running from Sangsad Avenue to Khamarbari through a stretch of Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban complex, saying it clashes with another project and may also prompt a legal battle.
BAF argues that the 18-metre elevation of the metro rail along Bijoy Sarani is just too high for aircraft to fly from adjacent Tejgaon airfield during emergencies and wars. The height of the metro system, however, comes down to only 10m as the train is about 6m high and electric connector 2m.
High-level official meetings have failed to resolve the dispute, plunging the $1.7-billion project into trouble. Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), the lone financier of the project, is getting fed up with the delay and may withdraw from it, said officials familiar with the controversy.
Experts are worried that the air force’s alternative route will damage the original architecture of the Sangsad Bhaban complex, a masterpiece of world famous architect Louis I Kahn.
Mubasshar Hussein, president of the Institute of Architects Bangladesh, said they would resort to legal steps to prevent encroachment on the master plan of the Sangsad Bhaban.
“Major development projects are being obstructed one after another on the plea of saving Tejgaon airfield, which was owned by the civil aviation authorities and abandoned long back,” he said.
Prof Jamilur Reza Chowdhury, a noted civil engineer, dismissed as incorrect BAF’s claim that 3,000 flights operate from the airfield annually.
Tejgaon airfield was abandoned in 1981 after Shahjalal International Airport, formerly Zia International Airport, was built in Kurmitola. It was then taken over by BAF, which operates mainly helicopters and training planes from here, Jamilur said.
The air force’s claim that they operate C130 relief cargo planes from Tejgaon has been disputed by reliable official sources who refused to be identified as they are not allowed to speak to the media.
The sources said the cargo planes operate from Shahjalal airport. No commercial large-size aircraft has operated from Tejgaon airstrip during more than three decades since Shahjalal airport opened, said the official sources.
In case a war situation calls for, the metro operation will remain suspended as a defence strategy, Jamilur said at a recent ministerial meeting in presence of BAF officials.
Officials said an embankment was built around Shahjalal International Airport to save its runway from flooding after it was submerged during floods. It is a flood-proof airport now, they said.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh, Tejgaon airstrip is one of the country’s seven STOL (short take-off and landing) airports with a 9,000-foot long runway.
Ordinary military aircraft and STOL service can operate with one-third length of the runway while fighter planes may require two-thirds of it, said Prof Shamsul Hoque, a member of the metro rail project’s technical committee, who teaches airport engineering (airport development) at Buet.
BAF operates most of its major military aircraft from Shahjalal Airport.
The 22-metre Bangabandhu Novo Theatre close to Tejgaon airfield is already an accepted obstruction in the funnel, he said, adding a lower-height metro rail should not be an additional problem.
There are already over two hundred buildings exceeding the approved height around the airstrip including BAF’s Falcon Tower, Novo Theatre and IDB building within the air funnel.
About five years back, Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha asked owners of the high-rise buildings including Falcon Tower to knock off the unauthorised height in compliance with the civil aviation rules.
The newly-built 15-storey building on cantonment land at Jahangir Gate is the latest addition to the list, said Prof Shamsul Hoque.
The Daily Star wrote to the authorities concerned through Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) seeking their comments on the points raised by the experts.
The paper waited for replies for nearly a month and repeatedly contacted the authorities. The reply from ISPR officials was that the armed forces authorities were “looking into the queries.”
DISADVANTAGES OF ALTERNATIVE ROUTE
The alternative route will imply a 55-metre encroachment on the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban’s (parliament building) master plan, an architectural marvel, and clash with the ramp of proposed Dhaka Elevated Expressway at Manik Mia Avenue.
It is almost impossible to obtain consent of the private investor of Dhaka Elevated Expressway hurriedly for coordination, said competent sources speaking on condition of anonymity because of sensitivity of the dispute.
Metro rail requires adequate turning radius, which is absent at sharp turning at Khamarbari. That is why some pillars have to be set up occupying land into the eastern side of the Sangsad Bhaban complex.
ARMY’S OBJECTION
The army, meanwhile, has objected to the site of metro’s depot in Pallabi, asking the authorities to move it farther north to save land belonging to Mirpur cantonment, said officials. It also cited security concern.
The army claims more than half of the 40-acre site is its land, said officials concerned. The rest is owned by Rajuk and Water Development Board. The site has to move towards north into Uttara model town to spare army land.
TO CONVINCE THEM
Official sources said a joint team of Dhaka Transport Coordination Board, Jica and experts had earlier met the air chief and sought his cooperation to resolve the issue in greater public interest.
The communications ministry had a meeting with the finance minister and representatives of BAF and army on August 10 to settle the issue.
JICA ANNOYED
Official sources said uncertainty in route alignment might force Jica, the lone financer, to withdraw from the project.
Jica intends to start feasibility study of the project by December and hold financial negotiations early next year, said officials concerned.
It is doing a pre-feasibility study of the project and has committed to providing a soft loan of 1.7 billion dollars at 0.01 percent interest rate. It was upset when route change first occurred in February.
The metro, otherwise known as mass rapid transit, is recommended in the Strategic Transport Plan as a key step to solve Dhaka’s paralysing traffic gridlock.
The proposed metro will carry 50 thousand people per hour in one direction at affordable fare, according to project documents.
It will run from Uttara phase-three to Sayedabad through Pallabi, Rokeya Sarani, Bijoy Sarani, Farmgate, Shahbagh, TSC of Dhaka University, Doyel Chattar, Press Club, Paltan and Bangladesh Bank.

 

Courtesy of The Daily Star

Related News

Mother, kid reunited by cop’s brave act

News Desk : dhakamirror.com A mother sold her two-month-old infant for Tk 30,000 to pay off debts. A police team reunited the mother and kid yesterday, three days after the terrible tragedy. The mother, Lima Hanufa, said her husband hasn’t worked in five years since a road accident incapacitated him. Lima, her family’s sole breadwinner, ... Read more

Taslima Nasreen claims she became a big victim of medical crime

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin has accused a hospital in India of committing a “medical crime” by providing wrong treatment to her after she reportedly broke a bone in her leg. She claimed that doctors at the hospital conducted a total hip replacement surgery on her even though the X-ray report ... Read more

Boy found in the cargo container calls himself Fahim

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The boy found in a cargo container in Port Klang of Malaysia on January 17 calls himself Fahim and he could be Bangladeshi or Rohingya. A video clip of the boy, aged between 11 and 15, being rescued from the empty container went viral and in several clips the boy calls ... Read more

Sreemangal became cool at 5.6 degrees Celsius

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Sreemangal of Moulvibazar ha the lowest temperature of the season at 5.6 degrees Celsius in the 24 hours preceding friday morning. Mujibur Rahman, a Srimangal weather monitoring station officer, told UNB that the lowest temperature at Sreemangal was 2.8 degrees Celsius on February 4, 1968. Sreemangal is struggling with severe cold, ... Read more

Liver transplant: Sister saves brother

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Bogura resident 53-year-old Monetzar Rahman received a liver transplant from Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) physicians. At a press conference yesterday, BSMMU officials stated Montezar’s sister Shamima Akter, 43, gave 60% of her liver to save her brother. The Prime Minister’s Relief and Welfare Fund paid for surgery. BSMMU surgeons ... Read more

Biswa Ijtema first phase concludes with peace prayers

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The first phase of the Biswa Ijtema concluded today with the Akheri Munajat (final prayers), seeking peace on earth and prosperity for the Muslim Ummah. Thousands of devotees of all ages gathered at the Ijtema ground on the Turag banks and on the roads adjacent to the Ijtema venue during the ... Read more

Women use mobile phones more than men

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The latest survey from the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) shows that more women than men in the country have access to mobile phones. The proportion of mobile phone use of the male and female in the last 3-month is 89.9 percent and 90 percent respectively, said the report. The BBS ... Read more

What does a ride on the metro cost?

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The Uttara-Agargaon section of the country’s first metro rail will be inaugurated tomorrow. Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA), the government agency responsible for fixing metro rail fare, has published the full list of metro rail fares. The minimum fare was fixed at Tk 20 and the maximum fare for travelling from ... Read more

DGHS advises taking booster and using mask amid rising COVID-19 cases

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Health officials told people today to be careful, such as by getting booster shots and wearing masks in crowded places. This comes after a warning from the National Advisory Committee about a possible new variant that has already spread through China and been found in India. Because of a highly contagious ... Read more

Met Office warns of fog

News Desk : dhakamirror.com A light to thick blanket of fog is likely to envelope large parts of Bangladesh for up to 12 hours from midnight. Moderate to thick fog may occur over the river basins and northern part of the country and light to moderate fog elsewhere over the country from midnight to morning, ... Read more

Bangladesh celebrates Victory Day

Nahid Riyasad The nation celebrates 52nd Victory Day on Friday commemorating the freedom fighters whose supreme sacrifice freed the country from Pakistani occupation force in 1971. Thousands of people from all walks of life started gathering at the National Memorial in Savar to pay tribute to the 1971 martyrs from the morning after the president ... Read more

Bangladesh’s Saleemul Huq among Nature’s top 10 scientists

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The scholarly publication Nature has presented a selection of ten individuals who were instrumental in shaping the most significant scientific stories in 2022. Saleemul Huq, a Bangladeshi scientist, has made it onto the list for his work to get wealthier nations to pay for the losses and damages caused by climate ... Read more

Martyred Intellectuals Day: People paying homage to martyred intellectuals

News Desk : dhakamirror.com People from all walks of life have been paying tributes to the martyred intellectuals by placing wreaths at the Martyred Intellectuals Memorial in Rayerbazar this morning, marking the Martyred Intellectuals Day. Most of the people, including teachers and students from different educational institutions, were wearing black clothes, a symbol of mourning. ... Read more

Stakeholders can deal with Evaly on own accord

News Desk : dhakamirror.com HC says in full text of order The High Court in the full text of an order has cleared the way for banks and other stakeholders to deal with beleaguered e-commerce platform Evaly on their own accord. “Since this court has never passed any order to halt the activities of Evaly, ... Read more

Argentina plans embassy in Bangladesh

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Argentina wants to open a diplomatic mission in Bangladesh. South Atlantic News Agency Merco Press says that the decision may have been helped by the fact that Bangladesh cheered for Lionel Messi’s team at the World Cup in Qatar. Bangladesh has always had a lot of die-hard Argentina fans, but during ... Read more

BBC’s 100 Women list includes Bangladeshi student

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The BBC placed Bangladeshi student Sanjida Islam Choya on its list of the world’s 100 most influential women for 2022 because of her work to stop child marriage. The BBC says that Sanjida has stopped at least 50 child marriages in Bangladesh. When she was in school, she saw a presentation ... Read more

HSC enrollment starts Dec 8, classes start Feb 1

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Enrollment for the following academic year’s Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) courses will open on December 8 using an online registration system. Prof. Tapan Kumar Sarker, head of the Inter-Education Board Coordination Committee, said applicants can apply through December 15. He added the admission process will be posted on education boards’ and ... Read more

Umrah e-visa requires biometric data.

Elderly pilgrims may be affected, according to HAAB. News Desk : dhakamirror.com In order to receive their Umrah e-visas, pilgrims from Bangladesh and four other countries must submit biometric data, including “fingerprints,” to the Saudi authorities. According to a report citing an announcement by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, the other nations include ... Read more

75% disabled children not in secondary school

News Desk : dhakamirror.com About three-quarters of children with disabilities have dropped out of high school, and about 60% do not go to regular primary schools. A recent government study found that only 8% of them go to primary schools for early childhood education, with girls enrolling at a rate of 5.39 percent and boys ... Read more

Depression, cold wave anticipated in late December

News Desk : dhakamirror.com A low to moderate cold wave – coupled with a depression – could grip the country at the end of December. As a result, mercury may dip as low as 6 Degrees Celsius in some regions of the country, Bangladesh Meteorological Department forecasted on Thursday. Bangladesh could see less rainfall than ... Read more