Shillong, Nov. 13: Union minister of state for road transport and highways Mahadev S. Khandela today laid the foundation stone of the new Dawki bridge over Umngot river in Jaintia Hills to facilitate better trade facilities with Bangladesh.
Khandela said the Centre would also make the Dawki-Shillong Road two-lane at the cost of Rs 36 crore for better connectivity which would accelerate trade activities.
The Centre has approved the amount and the state is expected to bear the additional expenditure for the completion of the two-lane project.
Khandela announced that the new bridge would be built in addition to the existing old suspension bridge built by the British across the Umngot river, along the Indo-Bangla border.
While the existing single-lane 136-metre suspension bridge built by the British has outlived its utility, the new two-lane bridge will ensure free flow of traffic.
The construction of the proposed new bridge, which will be 165 meters long, including an approach road, will be at the cost of Rs 23.12 crore.
The Union minister hoped that the construction would be completed within three years.
A large number of coal-laden trucks move to Bangladesh through Dawki and after unloading the coal, they return through the same route.
The proposed new bridge, a central project, will help to shorten the distance and expedite trade movement from Bangladesh to Dawki, PWD principle secretary Anup Thakur said. With a permanent bridge coming up across the Umngot, heavy vehicles need not take a long route via Jowai to reach Dawki.
Thakur said the new bridge would help boost international trade, given the significance of the area in terms of trade with Bangladesh.
The construction of the new Dawki bridge was part of the Prime Minister’s 1996 package. There was undue delay in the construction of the bridge for the past several years because of change in alignment of the project.
The original estimate sanctioned on March 31, 2000, was prepared on the basis of the alignment finalised by the ministry of road transport and highways in consultation with the ministry of defence.
However, the contractor’s higher quoted rates forced a revised estimate to be submitted to the ministry on November 24, 2005.
Following this, the decision of the ministry was to de-sanction the original estimate and also change the alignment of the bridge to further downstream towards the Indo- Bangla border.