The newly constructed second Kharkai bridge on Monday. Picture by Animesh Sengupta
The new Kharkai bridge project has missed its October 9 deadline, but you can still catch your favourite Malkan Singh’s theme Puja pandal in Adityapur with relative ease.
Though approach roads are still under construction, both flanks of new Kharkai bridge as well as the old connector will be open for public use for six days from Wednesday morning for Durga Puja.
A decision to this effect was taken at a joint administrative meeting of Seraikela-Kharsawan and East Singhbhum at Vikas Bhavan, Adityapur, on Monday.
Nearly two lakh revellers troop down to two of the biggest Adityapur theme Pujas — Malkan Singh’s Puja or officially Jairam Youth Sporting Club and Sambhu Singh Pandal — every year.
Present on Monday’s meeting were senior district officials, police personnel, representatives of Himanchal Construction, the firm appointed by Tata Steel to build the Kharkai bridge approach roads, as well as office-bearers of NGO Jan Kalyan Morcha, campaigning for the completion of the project before Puja.
Seraikela-Kharsawan superintendent of police (SP) Indrajit Mahthe said bad weather had delayed construction of approach roads that were supposed to be ready by October 10.
“Now that Durga Puja is here, we have to do all we can to streamline the movement of revellers from Jamshedpur-end of the bridge. We will open all three flanks of the bridge during Puja,” the SP said.
Elaborating on the consensus over vehicular and pedestrian movement, he said: “Vehicles riders from Adityapur bound for Jamshedpur will use the old bridge. Jamshedpureans going towards Adityapur will use the right flank of the new bridge. Pedestrians from both sides will use the left flank of the new bridge.”
After Puja, construction of roads will resume, he added.
Deputy superintendent of police (traffic) Rakesh Mohan Sinha promised strict policing for commuter safety.
A Himanchal Construction representative admitted continuous rains prevented them from completing the approach roads within deadline.
“We will ensure that pedestrians and vehicle owners commute on all three flanks easily. Once Puja is over, we will resume construction so that approach roads get ready fast,” said a senior official.
Executive engineer of state road construction department Sanjay Kumar Singh, who was also present at the meeting, said commuting arrangements for Puja days were satisfactory.
Jan Kaylan Morcha had been asking the administration to complete the construction of the approach road before Puja. Adityapur residents had also threatened to stage a dharna if the approach roads did not get complete by October 9.
Can Kharkai bridge bear the volume of festive footfall?