Jamuna Tunnel Project Takes a Step Forward as China Steps In

Jamuna Tunnel Project Takes a Step Forward as China Steps In

The long-awaited Jamuna tunnel construction project in Bangladesh has achieved a breakthrough. China has stepped in to conduct the preliminary feasibility study for the ambitious project, bringing new hope for improved connectivity and transportation in the region.

China’s selection of Henan Communications Planning & Design Institute Co Ltd for the study comes after the withdrawal of China Railway Design Corporation (CRDC) from the project two years ago, as reported by official sources.

Originally, the Chinese government had chosen CRDC for the task, but their exit left the implementing agency, the Bridge Division, disheartened. However, the recent decision by China to assign Henan to the job has renewed enthusiasm for the project.

The pre-feasibility study will be spearheaded by Mr Ding Ning and his team from China, with an expected completion timeline of one year.

Since 2017, the Bridges Division has been striving to carry out the study for the proposed Jamuna tunnel project. The idea was first introduced by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in February 2016 as a means to connect the underdeveloped northern region of Bangladesh with Dhaka and other eastern parts of the country.

The initial site selection for the tunnel lies between Balashi Ghat in Gaibandha district and Dewanganj Ghat in Jamalpur, with the aim of reducing the distance between Dhaka and the northern districts by nearly 80 kilometers. However, the final site will be determined based on the outcome of the feasibility study.

Experts favor the construction of a tunnel instead of a bridge due to the significant issue of siltation in the River Jamuna. Being the second-largest river in the world in terms of silt transmission and the fifth-largest in terms of water flow, Jamuna presents unique challenges that a well-designed tunnel can mitigate.

Once constructed, the Jamuna tunnel promises to revolutionize transportation in Bangladesh by providing an alternative to the heavily burdened Bangabandhu Bridge. It is expected to establish improved communication between the Rangpur division and the northern part of the Dhaka division, including greater Mymensingh and other regions of the country.

The feasibility study will encompass various critical operations, such as selecting the tunnel’s location, determining its length and alignment, choosing the construction method, conducting geotechnical investigations, seismic studies, surveys, traffic studies, and environment and rehabilitation-related assessments. Additionally, the study will involve formulating an initial design, estimating costs, devising a land acquisition plan, and conducting economic and financial analyses. Risk evaluation and reduction systems will also be identified.

The tunnel will foster better road and rail communications among 13 districts in the northern region, including Rajshahi, Rangpur, Dinajpur, Gaibandha, Bogra, Nilphamari, Thakurgaon, and greater Mymensingh. It will serve as a multi-modal transportation corridor, linking road and railway communication systems.

Moreover, the Jamuna tunnel will alleviate the pressure on the Bangabandhu Bridge, currently the sole communication link between the northern and western zones and other parts of the country. The Bridges Division envisions introducing both road and rail services through the tunnel, facilitating swift connections from the western part of the country to the eastern part and the Chattogram seaport.

Given the River Jamuna’s width of up to 13 kilometers during the rainy season, transmitting 19,500 cubic meters of water per second, along with 650 million tonnes of silt, the successful construction of the tunnel will be a monumental achievement for Bangladesh’s infrastructure and transportation landscape.

Leave a Comment