bdnews24.com 6 Mar 17;
A discussion with a Singaporean company to dredge rivers in exchange for the excavated sand is underway, Water Resources Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud has said.
He told the media at a programme in Dhaka Reporters' Unity on Sunday that the government was trying to have some of the big rivers dredged experimentally by foreigners.
"They (foreigners) will take away the excavated sand, and as everything has a value, they will pay for it," he said.
Without revealing the firm's name, he said their proposal was being scrutinised.
"A discussion is underway. It's not final yet. Some countries have proposed to take away the excavated soil. So, we are now conducting experiments in some areas to check whether it causes any harm," the minister said.
Arguing in favour of the project, he said a survey found that Tk 9 trillion will be needed to dredge all the big rivers. "It's not possible for us to manage this much money now."
"Moreover, managing the excavated silt is also a major problem for us. These dredged sediments again mix up with river water during rains. The money will also be needed to keep the silt on anybody's land," he said.
Anisul said having the rivers dredged by the foreigners in exchange for the sand will solve the problem.
According to him, the cost of dredging is Tk 160 to 200 per cubic metre.
He said the proposed project would start from the river Jamuna which carries half a billion tonnes of silt into Bangladesh every year.
"But we want to check first whether the project would negatively affect our environment," he added.
He also expressed hope that the complications over the signing of the Teesta water sharing deal with India will go away during the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to the country.
"India's former prime minister Manmohan Singh and current Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave words that the deal will be signed. I believe, as the two prime ministers have promised, they will deliver on it," he said.
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'If any adverse impact on the environment is detected, the dredging will be stopped'
The decision was taken at a meeting of the National Sand Corridor Management Committee on Monday with land minister Shamsur Rahman Sharif in the chair.
Sharif said sand can be lifted experimentally for six months initially from the proposed site of Jamuna river by keeping the flows normal for river traffic and navigability.
If any adverse impact on the environment is detected, the dredging will be stopped, he added.
Earlier, Infrastructure Dredging Limited applied to the Ministry of Water resources seeking permission for dredging Jamuna river and exporting the sand to Singapore and Maldives at its own cost initially for a period of two years.
Later, the Land Ministry, Water Resources Ministry and Shipping Ministry discussed the proposal of the company at a meeting of the National Sand Corridor Management Committee on October 18, 2016.
In the meeting, a five-member team was formed to make recommendations on the export rate of sand.
Shipping Minister Sahjahan Khan, Water Resources Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud and State Minister for Land Saifuzzaman Chowdhury attended the meeting.
bdnews24.com 6 Mar 17;