The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) on Tuesday approved a Taka 2,204.39 crore project to expand Teletalk mobile phone network at village level and also to modernize the existing network to provide 5G services.
The approval came from a meeting of the ECNEC held with its chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
The premier joined the meeting from her official Ganobhaban residence while ministers, state ministers, Planning Commission members and secretaries concerned joined the meeting from the NEC Conference Room in the city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Planning Minister MA Mannan said that a total of 10 projects were approved today involving an overall estimated cost of Taka 7,985.51 crore.
“Of the total project cost, Taka 6,660.29 crore will come from the government of Bangladesh, Taka 137.09 crore from the concerned organization’s own fund and the rest Taka 1,188.13 crore as project assistance,” he added.
State Minister for Planning Dr M Shamsul Alam, Planning Commission members and secretaries concerned also joined the briefing.
Of the approved 10 projects, nine are new while one is a revised project.
The planning minister said Teletalk Bangladesh Limited under the Post and Telecommunication Division will implement the project on expansion of Teletalk network by November 2023.
He said the main project objectives include improving the qualitative of the existing Teletalk network to provide modern 4G based services to the rural people at an affordable price side by side modernizing the existing core and transmission network of Teletalk suitable for providing 5G technology based services.
The main project operations include creating some 3,000 BTS sites, increasing the retention capacity of the machineries of some 2,000 BTS sites compatible to 3G and 4G, modernization of sites by replacing existing 200 mobile BTS, incorporating 4G BTS in the existing 1,000 mobile BTS sites, installing 5,000 Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) devices, installing long haul and short haul microwave link, expanding core IP backbone network, and expansion of charging, billing, value added service and other sub systems.
Commenting on the project, Mannan said a huge investment of Taka 2,204 crore will be made in Teletalk through this project to further expand its network in the rural areas and also to strengthen the necessary infrastructures to cope with the 5G network coverage.
Answering to a question, State Minister for Planning Dr Shamsul Alam said that Teletalk has been running its operations since its inception as a government tool or arms since no other network except Teletalk could hardly reach the CHT and char land areas.
He said Bangladesh is a welfare oriented country for which the government always has to look into the wellbeing of people.
It was also informed in the briefing that the Planning Commission has already received a project to initiate 5G coverage in selected areas of Dhaka city which is under process.
Referring to the approval of replacing existing bailey and other risky bridges at dilapidated, narrow and important points (Rangpur Zone) with a cost Taka 861.39 crore, Mannan said the Prime Minister asked the authorities concerned to find out such dilapidated bridges across the country and for replacing those.
Regarding the approval of upgrading Bagerhat-Rampal-Mongla district highway to due standard and width with Taka 467.76 crore, the Planning Minister said it is the decision of the government to widen and strengthen the existing roads in phases as well as building necessary overpasses and underpasses.
Turning to the approval of enhancing capacity of Bangladesh Film Archives and collection, conservation of audio-visuals of the War of Liberation from local and foreign sources with Taka 62.68 crore, the Premier asked the authorities concerned to collect and conserve all the War of Liberation related mementos from various countries especially from Eastern Europe.
About the project for developing important roads under Keraniganj upazila in Dhaka district with Taka 1,090 crore, Mannan said the Prime Minister has noted that Keraniganj has become a part of the metro Dhaka and thus its facilities should have to be enhanced.
The Planning Minister said the day’s meeting approved another project titled Madarganj 100MW Solar Power Plant at Solar Park, Jamalpur with Taka 1,511.79 crore.
Mannan said the ECNEC had earlier proposed to name this plant after the name of the Prime Minister since it would be the country’s largest and iconic solar power plant, but the premier opposed to label the plant after her name.
The Prime Minister also asked the authorities concerned to ensure necessary dredging of the Dudhkumar River while giving approval to the Dudhkumar River management and development in Kurigram District project with Taka 692.68 crore.
Replying to another question, the Planning Minister said the Prime Minister earlier in a meeting had said that tolls are being realized since the government has to make huge expenses for maintaining the countrywide roads, highways and bridges.
Mannan hinted that tolls would be in place in various points in future.
Replying to another question about the final GDP growth of 3.51 percent in FY20 down from the provisional estimation of 5.24 percent, Dr Shamsul Alam said that Bangladesh had performed much better in the global context despite the pandemic.
He said that Bangladesh was in top of South Asia considering GDP growth attainment while countries like China and India also witnessed much less growth rate during that time.
Statistics and Informatics Division Secretary Muhammad Yamin Chowdhury said that the provisional growth rate of 5.24 percent was estimated based on the available data of nine months in the FY20.
He said that the GDP growth rate of Bangladesh was positive during that fiscal although many countries had witnessed negative growth.
The other projects approved in the meeting are Char Development and Settlement Project 4, additional financing, LGED portion with Taka 106.85 crore, Palli Jibikayon Project, 3rd phase with Taka 928.88 crore and Integrated Livestock Development at coastal char areas, 1st revised, with an additional cost of Taka 59.09 crore.