This is the eighth part of an exclusive series on development initiatives that have changed the picture of the country’s 64 districts over the last decade and a half
The people of Kushtia are elated with the development spree that the Awami League (AL) government implemented in their three consecutive terms in the district. Ever since AL came to power, large development projects have been implemented in Kushtia.
These projects include Kushtia Medical College, Kushtia Bypass Road, Kushtia-Haripur Sheikh Russel Bridge, Golam Kibria Bridge in Kumarkhali Upazila, Sheikh Kamal National Stadium, Kushtia Swimming Pool Complex, extension of Kushtia General Hospital from 100 beds to 250, Kushtia Court Building, development of Bheramara and Poradah railway stations, construction of six upazila parishad complexes, construction of four police stations and the construction of the 10-storey Kushtia Zilla Parishad multipurpose complex.
The list continues with the nationalization of five colleges and five secondary schools, construction of an office building for the superintendent of police, Rabindra-Lalan Udyan, the construction of six model mosques, Chief Judicial Magistrate court building, a state-of-the-art complex building of District Arts Academy, homes for the destitute, passport office and the opening of an Indian visa centre.
Among these, progress of the Kushtia-Haripur Sheikh Russel Bridge, Kumarkhali Golam Kibria Bridge, City Bypass Road, Shilpakala Academy’s new complex and swimming pool complex are now visible. On the other hand, many construction projects including Kushtia Medical College, Sheikh Kamal National Stadium are still ongoing.
According to the district administration, Kushtia district consists of an area of 100,621.25 square kilometres. According to the 2011 census, the population of the district is about 19,46,838. Kushtia as a district has had an undisputed reputation as the cultural capital of Bangladesh since ancient times, when it was formed in 1947. Kushtia then consisted of three subdivisions. Among them are Kushtia, Chuadanga and Meherpur. Then, in 1984, when Chuadanga and Meherpur were made separate districts, Kushtia was reformed.
During the BNP-led coalition government, Kushtia was an undeveloped township. However, since the AL came to power, the scenario has started to change. Many mega projects were undertaken during the AL regime.
Mohammad Rafiqul Islam, former senior vice president of the Mirpur Upazila Chhatra League, said that there have been several significant development projects implemented in Kushtia. Among them are the Kushtia-Haripur Sheikh Russell Bridge, Kushtia Medical College, the bypass road, and 100% electrification of the district. At present, several development activities are going on in Kushtia.
“We hope that the people of the country will once again bring the AL government to power through ballot to maintain this progress,” he said.
Waliul Islam Azim, national sales manager of Walton, who lives in Dhaka, said among the development projects some have been key for the people of the district including the setting up of Kushtia Medical College. If it is opened, people of the surrounding districts will also get better medical facilities, he added.
Mohammad Ali Joardar, a Zilla Parishad member, said that during the reign of Sheikh Hasina’s government, there have been a lot of development works in Kushtia. Which include the rice research centre in Kushtia, the nationalization of five technical colleges, and the construction of a number of schools, colleges, mosques, and madrasas. Apart from this, the construction of 10 silos will boost local agriculture, he opined.
Haji Rabiul Islam, senior vice president of Kushtia district AL, said that most of the development activities expected by the local people under the supervision of Mahbub Ul Alam Hanif, Joint General Secretary of the Awami League, have become visible. Some projects are in progress.
For a long time, the people have been demanding the construction of a bridge over the Gorai River, which has been implemented during the current government’s regime. Moreover, the city bypass road was another demand that the people had been making for ages. The construction of the road has also been completed.
In addition to this, the construction of a swimming pool complex with modern amenities and facilities has been completed. The three-story district art academy building, along with an auditorium, has been completed. The construction work at Kushtia Sheikh Kamal National Stadium is currently ongoing, he added.
Besides, a six-storey circuit house with attractive and modern facilities is being constructed. A four-lane road construction project has been undertaken by the government as well, Rabiul Islam said.
Kushtia Medical College
In 2011, the long-awaited Kushtia Medical College was launched temporarily at the Medical Assistant Training Institute (MATS) building with 11 teachers and 52 students. Then, in 2013, the construction of the medical college building started in the Lahinipara area of the city. Initially, it was set to be completed by 2014, but it has yet to be completed. Initially, the projected cost was Tk275.43 crore, which has increased several times by 2023.
Kushtia Bypass Road
The only means of road communication between north Bengal and the south in the country is the Jhenaidah-Ishwardi highway, which goes through Kushtia. The residents of the city were fed up with heavy traffic inside the city, and the government decided to build an alternative bypass road. On January 28, 2021, work on the bypass road construction project, which is about 7km long, started. A bypass road from Kushtia’s Battail joins the Kushtia-Pabna highway in Trimohani area. A total of Tk109 crore has been spent on the project. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the bypass road on November 1, 2018.
Haripur Link Bridge
Kushtia-Haripur link bridge over the Gorai River has been a long-cherished project of the people in the area. The bridge was opened to traffic on March 24, 2017. The foundation stone of the bridge was laid during the BNP-led coalition government, but the BNP-led government never built the bridge.
Construction of Bangabandhu’s sculptures:
There have been a number of beautification projects undertaken in Kushtia including building road dividers and installing city lights. Three beautiful sculptures of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, have been constructed at the busiest intersections of the city. Among them, the sculpture on the western side is made to commemorate the historical March 7. The sculpture on the east side commemorates Bangabandhu’s homecoming day, and the one on the north side commemorates the 6-point demand.
District Arts Academy
The new building of the District Art Academy has been constructed in the cultural practice of Kushtia, the famous cultural capital. The building has been constructed by the Ministry of Culture at a cost of around 50 crores on an acre of land. The new three-story academy has state-of-the-art complex buildings. Three auditoriums. These include a state-of-the-art fixed auditorium, a multipurpose auditorium, and arena stage.
Multi-storey Court Building
Another development project in Kushtia is the multi-storey building of the newly constructed Kushtia Chief Judicial Magistrate Court which has cost the authorities Tk64 crore. The new building of the court was inaugurated on March 28, 2019.
Garai Bridge at Kumarkhali
Another major development project of the current AL government outside Kushtia city is the Garai Bridge in Kumarkhali Upazila. The local government engineering department constructed the bridge at Kumarkhali-Yaduboyra Ghat at a cost of about Tk90 crore. The bridge was opened on June 28 of this year.
Kumarkhali, the heart of Kushtia, is home to around six to seven lakh people. Divided by Padma and Garai, this upazila has one municipality and 11 unions. Across the Padma River (north-west) Char Sadipur. And on the other side of the Garai River, there are five unions, namely Jaduboyra, Panti, Chandpur, Bagulat and Chapra.
Since there was no bridge until this year, the locals had to take boats to go to the other side. The plight of patients was unbearable, locals say.
Rakib Hasan, a student at Kumarkhali Government College, said that if a boat is missed, it takes about 30 minutes to get another one. “During exams, we had to go through a lot of trouble. The bridge has brought relief for us,” he said.
Chalim Sheikh, a farmer in Jotmora village, said: “I go to the town market to sell vegetables every day. Traveling by boat takes more time and is costly. Everything has become very easy now that the bridge is open.”
Anisur Rahman, a lecturer at the local Chowrangi University, said that the bridge has become a bridge between the people of the two sides. Because of this, there will be an increase in economic activity on both sides of the river now.
Electricity to Char areas
During the tenure of the current government, electricity has reached two remote areas of Ramakrishnapur and Chilmari union parishads of Daulatpur Upazil. The villages in the area share borders with India. Some are totally cut off from the mainland by the Padma River. There was no civic facility, as there was no power in the villages before. On January 3, 2021, Member of Parliament from Kushtia-1 (Daulatpur) Constituency Advocate AKM Sarwar Jahan Badshah inaugurated the electricity connection in Ramakrishnapur and Chilamari.
Kushtia District Awami League President Alhaj Sadar Uddin Khan said that this district was deprived of development for a long time before and after independence. Mahbub ul Alam Hanif, the symbol of all the development and progress in the district, is trying his best to bring in more development projects for the local people.
In this regard, the former vice-chancellor of Kushtia Islamic University, Rashid Askari, told Dhaka Tribune that Kushtia has been transformed by the AL government in the last 15 years. He said that the law enforcers have rid the district of terrorism at the same time, which has brought happiness to the local people.
Source: Dhaka Tribune.