The government is yet to find suitable sites for 214 out of 560 mosques cum Islamic cultural centres to be built across the country with own finance after failing to secure one billion US dollar grant from Saudi Arabia.
Bangladesh Islamic Foundation, which is implementing the much-trumpeted project, has already asked the deputy commissioners to find out suitable sites for the structures in line with directive from Prime Minister Office, officials have said.
Project director of the 560 Model Mosques and Islamic Cultural Centres Project Shafiqul Islam said they would call tenders for the already selected sites soon for expediting the scheme.
He said they consulted with a monitoring committee under Prime Minister Office for timely implementation of the project by the revised deadline of 2020.
Executive Committee of National Economic Council in April 2017 approved the project to be implemented at a cost of Tk 9,062.41 crore by 2019 with Tk 8,169.79 as grant from Saudi Arabia.
But in June, 2018, the same committee revised the project after failing to secure the grant and decided to implement the project with own finance. The project cost was trimmed down to Tk 8,722 crore.
The project officials said Tk 368 crore was allocated for the project in the current fiscal.
Under the project, model mosques in 64 districts and 16 coastal areas will be four-storey buildings, while the rest will be three-storey.
Once constructed, some 2,200 people will be able to offer their prayers at a time in each of the mosques.
On December 27, a monitoring meeting by PMO director Azizur Rahman expressed disappointment with the slow pace of the project.
The monitoring committee asked the authorities concerned to prepare a list of selected lands with dispute and send them to PMO by this month, said the officials.
By the current month, the monitoring committee also wanted Islamic Foundation to float tender for construction of at least 40 mosques cum cultural centres, they said.
The officials said site selection for remaining areas had to be completed by January.
The monitoring committee appointed a committee headed by another PMO director to deal with 37 sites on khas land.
In April, 2018, prime minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the construction works of nine model mosques and cultural centres under the project through video-conference from her Gonobhaban residence.
In the first phase, the model mosques will be built at Tungipara, Chattogram, Mymensingh, Sylhet, Jhalokathi, Khulna, Bogura, Noakhali and Rangpur.
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