Singapore firm proposes Bangladesh to dredge rivers in exchange for sand

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.

Published : 5 March 2017, 08:40 PM
Updated : 5 March 2017, 08:40 PM

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.