The Digha-Sonepur rail-cum-road bridge project, a key link to north Bihar, got an impetus with a budgetary allocation of Rs 226 crore to meet the March 2015 deadline.
Once completed, this 4.5km bridge would take a huge vehicular burden off Gandhi Setu, which is under maintenance at present.
“The sanctioned funds for the Digha-Sonepur rail-cum-road bridge is sufficient and we are confident to make it functional by March 31, 2015. In case, there is shortage of funds, the railways will further sanction for this ambitious project,” said East Central Railway (ECR) chief public relation officers Arvind Kumar Rajak.
As things stands now, Ircon International Limited, an Indian Railway construction company engaged in the work, has completed the work of 30 spans out of 36, 17 from the south and 13 from the north end. Work on the erection of girder is also going on fast.
However, so far as road work is concerned, it is quite slow due to the problem being faced in removing encroachment on the approach road — both in Patna and Saran districts. Sonepur, the northern end of the bridge, falls in Saran district and Digha is part of Patna.
“Land acquisition issue would be sorted out,” ECR general manager Madhuresh Kumar had recently said while inspecting the ongoing work and directed officials concerned to maintain a close coordination with district officials of Patna and Saran to remove all encroachments on roads for smooth construction of the bridge.
At present, Gandhi Setu is the only bridge, which provides connectivity to north Bihar with capital Patna and the and rail-cum-road Rajendra bridge which was opened for public use in 1954 has been closed due to its dilapidated condition.
It would be a boon for the people of Sitamarhi, Muzaffarpur, Chhapra, Siwan, Gorakhpur and other districts of north Bihar to come to Patna for government and other related works.
Preferring anonymity, a senior Ircon official said: “We have adopted a calculated strategy to complete the project in time and enthusiastic to hand over this bridge to the people by the end of March 2015. Technical experts of railways are already supervising the quality of work on the bridge.”
The distance between two spans is about 131m, while width of the road on the bridge is 9.075m and the path for the convenience of the pedestrians is 1.5m width.
About requirement of any more fund from centre, the IRCON official said: “Work is carried out as per the money made available to us, it’s not like funds are sanctioned in one take. If there is further requirement, railways will release the funds.”
The importance of this bridge will be more visible when the construction of 11.90km semi-elevated/elevated road from AIIMS-Patna (on NH-98) to Digha (along the Ganga driveway) would be completed. The Ganga driveway is being constructed on the northern side of Patna that would connect Digha-Sonepur rail-cum-road bridge.
However, state minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary put a question mark on the completion of the project.
“I have serious doubt on the deadline given by the railways. I do not think that the project would be completed in time and more funds are required — at least Rs 1,000 crore — for completing the project,” said Choudhary.