The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bridge call to ease pressure on Farakka

Malda, June 3: Concerned about the increasing congestion on the bridge, the Farakka barrage authorities have called for a second span on the Ganga here.

According to them, any delay in building a new bridge could lead to a disaster.

Former executive engineer and member of the technical advisory committee on the Farakka barrage Prasad Sen has already informed the Centre about the requirement. A copy of the letter has also been sent to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

General manager of the barrage U.S. Gani said: “I have written to the Centre asking permission to build the (new) bridge but we have not got the green light yet.”

Sen said traffic movement on the barrage has gone up several times since the bridge was opened to public. “More than 6,000 vehicles ply along the bridge every day. It often vibrates dangerously, weakening the pillars. The paint is also peeling off,” he said.

Sen, however, admitted that there was “no immediate threat” to the bridge. “Even then, we need another bridge to take the load off this one. There is enough space to construct another bridge. When the barrage was constructed there was provision for two bridges in view of increased traffic in future.”

Other engineers agree with Sen. “At least 20 letters had been sent to various Union government departments — surface transport, national highway authorities and ministry of water resources development — highlighting the necessity of another bridge. But all this yielded no result. To construct a new bridge, we need around Rs 120 crore,” said one of the engineers.

The railway initially had a single bridge. Later, a second one was built. “The barrage authorities have succumbed to continuous pressure from the railway ministry. Unfortunately, our political leaders and ministers have not been that vocal about the construction of another bridge to ease traffic congestion,” said a senior engineer.

“The Farakka barrage is the only link between the Northeast and the rest of the country. If the bridge is closed for even a day, the entire communication system will collapse. Putting together Rs 120 crore needed to build the bridge is not a big deal. The entire amount can be recovered through toll tax in the next four to five years,” he said.

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