Work in progress for the new Bokaro-Chas bridge on Tuesday. Picture by Pankaj Singh
Bokaro and Chas can finally hope to be connected via a new bridge by this October.
Work has again started on the disputed under-construction link over river Garga after a gap of around 15 months with chief minister Hemant Soren asking the contractor, Hindustan Steel Construction Limited (HSCL), to wrap up the project within six months.
If the 102m-long and 11m-wide lifeline, which is now half complete, gets ready by October 31, it will be a Chhath gift for Bokaro and Chas residents, who now to have to depend on an old, dilapidated single-lane bridge that was declared dangerous in 2002.
“HSCL has resumed construction of the new bridge on NH-23 about four weeks ago. We are monitoring the progress of the project every week. Although work appears to be delayed by about a week since construction re-started, the agency has promised to meet the October 31 deadline,” Bokaro deputy commissioner Uma Shankar Singh told The Telegraph on Tuesday.
As far as encroachment hurdles on the eastern side of the bridge are concerned, Singh said a special drive would start to evict the illegal settlers from May 30 under the supervision of Chas SDO and other senior district officials.
The cost of the project has also been revised from Rs 3.58 crore to Rs 5.08 crore in view of the escalating expenditure because of the long delay.
Already running late by two years, the bridge connecting Bokaro steel city with Chas township was to be completed by 2012. However, the project got mired in legal hurdles after principal secretary of road construction department Rajbala Verma cancelled the contract lease of HSCL for slow pace last February.
In its defence, HSCL had argued that work was slow as the NHAI had not given an advanced map of the bridge. Besides, encroachments had posed hurdles and there was no approach road. However, the principal secretary refused to buy any argument.
In May 2013, Verma awarded a fresh contract to Ganesh Yadav Construction Limited and Nav Pragati Enterprises (both belonging to same person) to complete the project, prompting HSCL to approach Jharkhand High Court.
Coming in open support of HSCL at the court, the Union transport surface ministry said in its affidavit that cancellation of contract from November 2012 was uncalled for as the company had worked till January 23, 2013. It further argued that roping in another contractor at that point of time would further push up costs after which Jharkhand High Court ordered a status quo and asked the state government and NHAI to sort out the matter.
The chief minister himself intervened and urged the road construction department to ensure speedy completion of the project.
The department finally gave a go-ahead to HSCL to resume work.
Before the project kicked off afresh, the deputy commissioner along with additional collector Sanjay Singh called a meeting of the contractor, NHAI engineers and assistant engineers of electricity board, asking all to iron out differences for smooth construction of the bridge.
NHAI was told to provide designs of super-structure, piers, lintel etc to the company on time.
“It’s really unfortunate that such an important project got delayed by two years. But it’s better late than never. Construction work is going on in full swing and we hope that this time, the project will be ready on time,” said president of Bokaro Chamber of Commerce Manoj Chowdhry.