New Delhi, Oct. 29: The Tripura government’s decision to construct a four-lane bridge over Feni river in Sabroom subdivision, which will reduce the distance between the state and Chittagong port, is stuck in bureaucratic delays.
Till decks for the bridge are cleared, there is no hope for improvement of the arterial National Highway 44 which cuts through the state.
After several complaints by Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar to the Centre, Union road transport and highways secretary A.K. Upadhyay recently visited the state.
Officials of the road transport ministry have made it clear that there is not enough traffic to widen the road unless this bridge comes in place.
In August this year, the Tripura government decided to construct a four-lane bridge over the Feni.
The river is on the India-Bangladesh border. The project has not, however, started till now.
National Highway 44 is also the only national highway that links Agartala with rest of the Northeast.
The bridge will be 150 metres long and will be constructed at a cost of Rs 73 crore. Tripura has been lobbying for the bridge since 2005.
“Currently, the land custom station at Sabroom is not operational because there are no traders. Though the Chittagong port is merely 70km from the state’s border, it remains inaccessible leaving the state landlocked,” Tripura chief secretary S.K. Panda said.
Currently, the department of industrial policy and promotion under the commerce ministry is pursuing the project.
The government had announced that the project would take off soon. However, till now, there are no signs of construction on ground.
The highway currently has two lanes. The state government wants it to be widened.
“We travelled on the highway and as of now there is very little traffic. Except in small stretch connecting Agartala to Badi Mata Mandir there is no traffic. Two lanes are enough for the next 20 years. But if the bridge is constructed there will be heavy traffic and we will need to widen the highway in advance,” Upadhayay told this correspondent.
The ministry of road transport and highways has also told the state government to strengthen its public works department.
Since it is a border state, currently most of the road projects by default are done by the Border Roads Organisation.
“In all states, the public works department is the default agency to maintain and construct roads. In Tripura, we found that the agency is not well-equipped,” Upadhayay added.