Padma Bridge Opened up New Horizons of Multifaceted Benefits

Hiren Pandit: Our Padma Bridge is standing tall over the Padma River. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the Padma Bridge on June 25 last year. This bridge is not only a means of communication but also a gateway to development. Various business initiatives including industry, culture, agriculture, tourism, and industry have expanded through this bridge. As a result of this bridge, the image of the agriculture-based economy of 21 districts of the south and southwest has changed.

More than 53 lakh vehicles have crossed the Padma Bridge last year leading to collection of more than 795 crores as toll. Not only that, residents of 21 districts in the southwestern part of the country have started reaping benefits of the Bridge. The Bridge has brought about radical changes in the communication sector. The most important thing is the courage with which Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took the initiative to build this dream Bridge with the country’s money and made it a reality.

Due to the opening of the Padma Bridge, there has been a great improvement in the socio-economic aspects of the region. Earlier, someone from those areas had to stay at least two nights and one day in Dhaka to get some work done. But now they can come to the capital and go back home after getting their jobs done in the day. Apart from them, trade and commerce, investment and tourism have expanded greatly.

Analysts have pointed out that the Padma Bridge is contributing greatly to the improvement of the economy and quality of life and the agricultural revolution and employment. Through the Padma Bridge, a direct road connection has been created with the capital Dhaka and the southwestern region of the country. Travel time between the capital and the southwest region has been reduced by a quarter. Being part of the proposed Asian Highway and Trans-Asian Railway Network, the Padma Bridge will facilitate regional connectivity.

The impact of the Padma Bridge has reduced poverty in the region by 1 percent and nationally it will reduce by 0.8 percent. The GDP growth will be 1.23 percent in South West region and 0.56 percent nationally. As a result of river management for the Padma Bridge, 9,000 hectares of land are protected from drought and floods.

Due to the Padma Bridge, the speed of import and export of goods has increased at the Benapole land port. Traders of Benapole Land Port, the country’s largest land port, can deliver goods to various places including the capital Dhaka at low cost and in a short time. This port is becoming more dynamic due to the easy and improved communication system through the Padma Bridge. Earlier, getting the serial of the ferry, and traveling through other roads would have increased the cost of the traders. Now both time and cost have been reduced due to the Padma Bridge. After the inauguration of the Padma Bridge, the economic condition of 21 districts in the south and south-western regions of the country is undergoing a radical change. The fate of the people of this region is changing. Direct communication has been established with Mongla and Payra ports.

The government has undertaken an integrated master plan for tourism-based development around the wide area from Payra to Kuakata. This master plan includes an international airport, modern tourist center, industrial port city, planned urbanization, communication, development of the economy and agriculture sector, environment protection and climate change-related activities including disaster risk. The Padma Bridge will play a major role in these cases.

The Padma Bridge has changed the lives of three crore people in 21 districts of the southwestern region. The economy of the region has changed in the positive direction. According to the Khulna Export Promotion Bureau, the income from the products exported from this region has increased by about Tk. 1,000 crore in the fiscal year 2022-23. Due to the Padma multi-purpose bridge, as the communication system in the region has undergone a radical change, the economy has also been greatly boosted. Also, the dying Mongla port is now buzzing with activities. Besides, 18 projects have been brought under the purview of the Padma Bridge to ensure a direct connection with Mongla port and communication system with the northern region. Seven other projects are also under preparation, including upgrading the Jashore-Khulna Mongla highway to six lanes.

Due to the Padma Bridge, the frozen fishery sector of Bangladesh is going to turn around again. Traders can export frozen shrimp and other fish to Chattogram port on time through this bridge. Exporters are benefiting a lot from this.

The Sundarbans is the world’s largest mangrove forest over parts of Khulna, Satkhira, Bagerhat, Barguna and Patuakhali districts. The area of this forest is spread over 6517 square kilometers. Local and foreign tourists once lost interest in visiting the Sundarbans due to long travel. After the opening of the Padma Bridge, that scenario has changed. In the last year, a large number of local and foreign tourists visited the Sundarbans. On the one hand, the local residents are enjoying the benefits, and the government is getting revenue.

The Padma Bridge is one of our most valuable possessions.

The writer is a columnist

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