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Bridge too far in Jorhat suburb

- Jorhat administration & army at loggerheads over RCC structure

Jorhat, Dec. 16: The army’s opposition to building a bridge near a supply depot which it claims could be a security threat has brought it into direct confrontation with the district administration.

The Jorhat administration has planned to start construct of an RCC (reinforce cement concrete) bridge over a rivulet at Kamandulia Kohar Gohain Gaon on outskirts of the town from Thursday.

The bridge, near an army supply depot at Saraibahi, is on a connecting road that links many villages on the south-western outskirts of Jorhat.

The district administration has decided to go ahead with the construction despite the army’s objection.

A senior administration official said the army was using parts of a letter issued by the Guwahati development department (GDD), government of Assam, on June 7, 2010, to all government departments, including the military establishment, to show that the bridge would be illegally constructed.

The Assam government’s letter said according to the provision of Indian Works of Defence Act 1903, classification of defence installations and establishments, no construction of any type is permitted within a distance of 2,000 metres from an ammunition depot and 1,000 metres from any firing range. No highrise building more than 48 feet is permitted to be constructed within 500 metres from the perimeter of a military cantonment.

“A no-objection certificate from local army authority before issuing building permission within a distance of 2,000 metres from boundary is to be taken,” it had added.

In early December, the administrative commandant, station cell, headquarters 41 sub area, wrote a letter to Jorhat deputy commissioner Solanki Vishal Besant stating that a no-objection certificate (NOC) would be required from the military authority for the construction of the bridge.

The army officer, quoting from the GDD letter, said: “The RCC bridge is being constructed near the boundary of the army land and any construction within 500 metres needs NOC from the military authority. In this connection your attention is drawn to government of Assam, Guwahati development department letter No. GDD 28/98/PDD 101 dated Dispur 07 June 2010. Hence, no NOC can be provided in light of security concerns, particularly in the areas where insurgency situation remains active and may manifest in unwarranted incidents”.

The district administration official said as it cannot be stated that a bridge falls in the category of a 48-metre highrise building within 500 metres of the cantonment wall, they do not need an NOC to construct the bridge.

“There is no need to acquire a no-objection certificate in the first place as a small bridge over a rivulet is not a highrise building and therefore the army by referring to the government letter requiring an NOC has been misleading everyone,” the official said. “The district administration will start construction from Thursday and will not tolerate any opposition,” he said.

He said Rs 1.5 crore had been sanctioned for construction of the bridge.

Jatin Bora, a resident of the village, said, dismantling of the wooden bridge several years ago had led to untold suffering in transportation of goods over the Dhekiajuli rivulet.

“The army was creating a bit of problems and on two occasions contractors have been sent back and not allowed to work,” he alleged.