Padma funding cancellation
Grass-roots AL men fear polls ‘debacle’ if bridge not builtMohiuddin Alamgir
Ruling Awami League leaders in the grass roots feared a ‘negative impact’ of the electorates on the next general elections if the the Padma bridge could not be built before the time.
Most of the leaders, however, expressed their dissatisfaction at the the World Bank’s cancellation of the funding for the bridge after levelling allegations of corruption without any proof.
They expressed their dismay at the World Bank decision when investigation of the alleged corruption was still going on.
They also felt that the incident would ‘tarnish the image of the government’ that was doing so many development works.
The World Bank on June 30 cancelled the $1.2 billion credit for the Padma Bridge project saying that it had ‘credible evidence’ of corruption against officials of the Bangladesh government.
The Asian Development Bank on July 2 also
cancelled its credit for building the $2.9 billion bridge on the River Padma.
The proposed 6.2km (3.8 miles) bridge over the Padma will connect the capital to the 16 districts in the south-west. The bridge is to have a highway and a railway.
AL leaders of different district and upazila units said that they were confident that the incumbent AL government would take effective steps to build the bridge in its current tenure as it was one of the party’s main election pledges.
The Barguna district unit Awami League general secretary, Jahangir Kabir, told New Age that he was optimistic that the government would being the work on the Padma bridge construction as soon as possible. ‘It will, otherwise, have serious impact and court a debacle in the next general elections.’
The Shariatpur district unit Awami League general secretary, Anal Kumar Dey, said that if the construction of the bridge could not be started before the elections, ‘it would create a negative impact on the people of the south-west as it is their long-standing demand. It may cause debacle for the Awami League in the next elections.’
The Rajbari district unit Awami League president, Zillul Hakim, told New Age that it would be wise to begin the construction of the bridge by any means to win the people’s sentiment in favour of the Awami League.
‘There are chances that the people, especially those living on other side of the Padma, might show adverse reaction if the bridge is not built,’ Zillur said.
A Madaripur district committee leader told New Age that the government had failed to handle the issue. ‘The government has delayed investigation of the corruption allegations levelled by the World Bank.’
All the three local AL leaders said that the cancellation of the WB fund was ‘unfortunate and illogical.’
Ragibul Ahsan, a leader of the Bogra district unit Awami League, said that after the World Bank had cancelled its credit, some media houses and intellectuals started blaming the Awami League but it was ‘basically politics of the World Bank.’
‘It is harmful for both the government and the Awami League. The government and the Awami League should take initiatives to let people know what actually happened regarding the matter,’ Ragibul said.
Mannan Mollah, a leader of the Boalmari upazila unit of the party in Faridpur, said that people were thinking that the cancellation of the WB funding was a ‘conspiracy’ instigated by vested interests.
He said that if the bridge could not be built, local opposition leaders would begin a propaganda that the Padma bridge project had failed because of the Awami League’s s failure, which would influence the people.
Grass-roots AL leaders unanimously demanded an immediate beginning of the work on the bridge, seen critical for 30 million people living in the south.
They all supported the stand the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, took on the Padma bridge project.
Hasina on July 4 blasted the World Bank for cancelling its credit for the bridge, saying that her government must build the bridge even if it would require the government to spend its own resources.
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