The road construction department on Wednesday extended the bid submission deadline for Ganga Driveway for the third time.
The department claimed that it deferred the date of opening the financial bids to October 19 following requests from firms showing interest in the project. They, the department sources said, bought time to fine-tune their proposals.
“The firms claimed that they were getting their project proposals vetted and enhanced by external technical agencies prior to final submission of bids. As the project involves large capital investment and needs to be technically verified in all aspects, the department has agreed to their request and extended the bid opening date from October 10 to 19,” said a senior road construction department officer.
Road construction minister Nand Kishore Yadav said: “Six firms had submitted their technical bids in the first stage, but they did not submit their financial bids by August 14 — the initial financial bid opening date. Three new firms showed interest during the pre-bid meeting in New Delhi on August 22. They sought more time from us for completing their survey before submitting their bids. So, the financial bid opening date has been extended.”
The state government has been striving hard to execute the Ganga Driveway project right from the outset. Initially, the financial bid opening was slated for August 3. But it was postponed to August 14. Not a single bidder turned up that day, prompting extension of the deadline for submission of bids to September 15. Later, it was again postponed to October 10.
The Ganga Driveway, which entails construction of a 20.5km-long four-lane road, would connect western part of the city with the east. It is expected to bring down the travel time between Digha Ghat and Didarganj from around two hours to approximately 25 minutes.
Road construction experts are sceptical about the feasibility of the ambitious project, though. A retired road construction department officer told The Telegraph: “The project was conceptualised in 2007 with an initial cost of around Rs 1,600 crore. Now it has escalated to Rs 2234.46 crore, which is too big a cost for construction of a 20-km road in Patna.”
Highlighting the loopholes in the project, he said: “A project involving such a huge investment must ensure sufficient revenue to the concessionaire (firm executing the project). Three toll plazas have been planned on the driveway but there would be restriction on movement of commercial vehicles on it. As most commuters travel in commercial vehicles between Danapur and Patna City, the concessionaire would find dearth of vehicles to mop up revenue. Also, how many people would be ready to pay toll tax at three places for travelling inside the same city? The case of Patna is not like travelling between Noida and Gurgaon in the national capital region, where people do not hesitate in paying taxes at several places.”