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Slo-mo bridge under scanner

Tardy pace of construction of the 102-metre-long bridge over Garga River, connecting Bokaro steel city with Chas township on NH-23, has raised eyebrows of state road department’s secretary Raj Bala Verma, who has called a high-level meeting in Ranchi on November 27 to probe the reasons behind the project missing its completion deadline.

NH superintending engineer S.K. Rai, implementing agency Hindustan Construction Company Limited’s (HSCL) executive director Ramadhar Jha, Chas electricity department’s executive engineer S.K Singh and Bokaro district officials have been summoned to the meeting that will fix accountabilities for the delay. A reply will be also sought as to why action should not be taken against those responsible as the slow pace of work has escalated the estimated project cost from Rs 3.58 crore to Rs 5.08 crore according to a fresh file submitted by HSCL.

Jha confirmed that he would attend the meeting. “Everyone wants the bridge to be completed without any further delay. The meeting in Ranchi will help sort out the hurdles,” Jha said.

The old arterial single-lane bridge was declared dangerous in 2002. A new parallel bridge was mooted and its construction was handed over to HSCL in 2010. The foundation was laid on November 6, 2010, with the condition that it should be ready by November 5, 2012. But hardly 25 per cent of the bridge could be completed. At present, construction is on hold as two electricity poles and a transformer of 64KV has come in its way.

The electricity department passed the buck to NH wing, saying the latter was yet to hand over a plot for shifting the obstructing transformer and erecting new poles.

NH engineers, on the other hand, claimed that no formal application has reached them. “Unless we receive a formal requisition, it will be difficult to provide a plot,” said Sanjay Kumar, NH-23 division’s executive engineer.

“I can show documents to prove that allotment of land was made months ago but we are yet to get the plot,” countered electricity board’s executive engineer S.K. Singh.

Highly placed sources in the administration, however, cited more reasons. “The transformer issue is not the only hurdle. The NH division has not yet given any design for the total length of the bridge and the approach road. Besides, several residential and commercial establishments have come up illegally on Chas side and they have to be removed to make way for the bridge,” a source revealed.

Bokaro deputy commissioner Sunil Kumar held out hope that construction would resume soon. “I have asked the NH authorities and the electricity board to iron out the differences soon. Construction will definitely resume in one week and we will ensure that all hurdles are removed so that no more time is lost,” Kumar added.

Once the 11m wide bridge is ready, heavy vehicles having the capacity to carry between 150 and 300 tonne can ply on it.