It will boost the economy of the area; create new jobs, with poor people and women getting at least 30% of the non-technical work
The government expects to reclaim 170.87 square km of land from the Teesta by dredging the main channel of the river. Additionally, it plans to build dams on a needs-based approach.
The land that is planned to be reclaimed is worth $1,570.84 million. And the value of properties that the newly built dams will save is estimated at $1,346.02 million. The total benefit accruing from the project will be $2,916.89 million.
Many developmental works, such as setting up economic zone, townships, power plants, and expanding farming, will be possible on the reclaimed land, according to a feasibility study of the Bangladesh Water Development Board.
The Teesta River originates in the Himalayas and flows through the Indian states of Sikkim and West Bengal before entering Bangladesh, where it flows into the Brahmaputra.
The river is 315 km in length, of which 113 km flow through Bangladesh. The Teesta is 0.70 km to 5.5 km wide in its Bangladesh part, its average width being 3.1 km.
Land on both banks of the river disappears every monsoon due to tidal surges and river erosion. Besides, the river has no water in the dry season.
Every year, the government takes some measures to provide relief to the local people, but there have been no results of such measures yet, said a Bangladesh Water Development Board official.
Against this backdrop, the Teesta River Comprehensive Management and Restoration project has been undertaken. Even so, a shortage of funds has been a barrier to its implementation, notes the Bangladesh Water Development Board.
The Bangladesh Water Development Board signed a memorandum of understanding in September 2016 with the Power Construction Corporation of China or Powerchina to conduct a technical assessment, make detailed designs, and undertake the construction work of the project. The MOU is also supposed to help the Bangladesh government get a loan from China.
Powerchina submitted a master plan relating to the Sustainable River Management project in Bangladesh, following which a feasibility study report that included estimates was prepared.
The cost of the proposed project is about $983.27 million. Of the amount, China will provide $853.05 million as a loan.
Apart from the reclaimed land, about 1,400 lakh cubic metres of the river will be dredged, and a 224.30 km dam will be built and repaired.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina sought Chinese assistance on her visit to Beijing last July for the implementation of the Teesta River Comprehensive Management and Restoration project. Chinese President Xi Jinping had assured Hasina of his support.
In the industrial park on the site of the project, there will be garment factories, textile mills, fertiliser factories, agricultural products processing plants, feed factories and a warehouse.
When implemented, the project will boost the economy of the area through creating new jobs. The poor people and women of the area will be privy to at least 30 percent of the non-technical work relating to the project.
Agricultural produce from the land will be transported for sale to cities like Dhaka and Chattogram. The project plan also includes a satellite town to be built within Rangpur Division.
"We will now prepare a project proposal based on the feasibility study and we have written to the Economic Relations Division of the finance ministry for funds," said Bangladesh Water Development Board Managing Director AM Aminul Haque.
"We will start work after receiving the funds and expect to complete it by 2024."