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Pre-poll river project battle

Before the election front, it’s the riverfront.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar has just thrown an open challenge to his Gujarat counterpart, Narendra Modi, with laying the foundation stone for the Ganga riverfront development project on Wednesday.

Ahmedabad already has Sabarmati riverfront but Nitish wants the Patna one to be better and more beautiful.

The much-awaited Ganga project envisages development of 6.5km-long and 20ft-wide walkway, which would be complemented with 500 benches, decorative lights, trees, lavatories and kiosks along the bank of the river between Anta Ghat and Nauzar Ghat. World Bank has agreed to contribute 63 per cent of the total estimated project cost of Rs 262.37 crore.

The Gujarat project on both sides of the Narmada’s Sabarmati channel in Ahmedabad is said to have been conceptualised in the early 1960s and construction began in 2004. The riverfront project was formally inaugurated by Modi on August 15, 2012.

“The contract for the Ganga project has been awarded to Larsen & Toubro (L&T) as its bid was the lowest. The project is to be completed within a period of two years from the date of commencement of work. Thus, people can expect the riverfront to be ready by February 2016,” said a senior official of Bihar Urban Infrastructure Development Corporation (Buidco).

L&T is also working on war footing these days for development of Bihar Museum, popularly known as International Museum with an estimated outlay of Rs 530 crore. Nitish has set the date of March 22, 2015, for inauguration of the museum.

The riverfront project falls under the ambit of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) — a World Bank-funded scheme aimed at effective abatement of pollution and conservation of the river.

According to sources, 70 per cent of total project cost would be contributed by the Centre (NGBRA) and rest would be borne by the state. World Bank would contribute 90 per cent in the share of the Centre, which comes to 63 per cent of the total project cost.

Interestingly, Nitish has done considerable amount of savings in arranging the funds for the project.

While Modi took around Rs 550 crore as loan from Housing and Urban Development Corporation (Hudco) for developing the Sabarmati riverfront, the loan of Rs 162 crore for Nitish’s project, taken from World Bank, would be repaid by the Centre and not the state. What all Nitish is required to spend on this project is funds to the tune of Rs 79 crore to match the state’s share in the project cost.


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