8 years on, new Khulna jail is still a project under construction

Relief is nowhere in sight for an estimated 2,000 inmates crammed into the over 600-capacity Khulna District Central Jail, with slow bidding process, land acquisition hurdles and design flaws casting a shadow over the prison modernisation project.

Construction work for the modern Khulna District Jail started on 30 acres of land in Domuria upazila along the Rupsa Bypass Road in 2012. And June 2020 was the deadline set for the ambitious project. Though the Covid pandemic has forced the authorities to push the deadline further, eight years on, the project is still in limbo.

Of the 41 tenders, sources said, nine are yet to be floated by the authorities, with skyrocketing prices of necessary raw materials hampering the overall progress of the Tk 251 crore worth project.

The bidding processes for construction of a hospital inside the jail, barrack-2, sentry box, garage, school, rainwater harvesting system, sewage treatment plant, water supply pipes, surface drains with culvert, external electrification and other works like soil test and solar panel installation are to be completed, sources said.

Other hurdles delaying the project include land acquisition issues and design flaws, sources said.

However, the project deadline, sources said, will soon be officially extended in the view of the Covid pandemic and lack of contractors and construction workers, many of whom have returned to their native homes during the lockdown and are yet to rejoin duty.

When contacted, Mohammad Nasir Uddin, the executive engineer of Public Works Division-2, Khulna, admitted that the bidding process of some tenders “is not yet done but that’s due to the escalating prices of raw materials”.

“Moreover, the normal work of the project has been hampered due to coronavirus. Anyway, the remaining tenders will be floated soon and necessary steps being taken to address other concerns obstructing the completion of the project,” he told UNB.

Khulna District Jail, the old prison, was set up in the city’s Jailkhana Ghat along the bank of Bhairab River way back in 1921. Though it has a capacity to house 606 inmates, some 2,000 are currently languishing there.

The modern jail will have a capacity to cater for 2,000 inmates, apart from a dedicated hospital and entertainment facilities and prayer hills for the detainees.

Source: United News of Bangladesh