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Riverfront dream sets sail

The banks of the Ganga along the city have started getting a facelift, much before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream to clean up the entire stretch of the river comes true.

The state government has set a target to complete the beautification work on six ghats along the city under the World Bank-aided Ganga riverfront project by Chhath festival. The work on an ambitious International Convention Centre spread over an area of 12 acres near the riverbank is also gaining momentum.

Super six

The Ganga riverfront development project is aimed at redeveloping the riverbank as a recreational and cultural hub to give an urban face to the city. The project entails development of a 6.6-km-long and 15-foot-wide walkway along 20 ghats in Patna complemented with decorative street lamps, public lavatories, 500 benches and green cover.

Work has started at six ghats, including Raja Ghat, Bhadra Ghat, Barahwa Ghat, Hanuman Ghat, Alamganj Ghat and Pathri Ghat. A source in Bihar Urban Infrastructure Development Corporation, the nodal agency for the project, said the work at Raja Ghat, Alamganj Ghat and Hanuman Ghat had been temporarily suspended from the first week of this month after they got inundated.

Samrat Chaudhary, the urban development and housing minister, told The Telegraph on Thursday: “We have targeted to complete ongoing work at the six ghats by Chhath, so that the devotees could observe the festival comfortably at the redeveloped ghats.”

The foundation stone of Ganga riverfront project was laid by former chief minister Nitish Kumar on February 12 this year. The project comes under the ambit of National Ganga River Basin Authority. The aims of the World Bank-funded body are effectively reducing pollution and conserving the river Ganga.

Deliberating on the significance of the riverfront project, Krishna Lall, the managing director at Sen & Lall Consultants Private Limited, said: “Historically, the settlement in Patna started right along the river banks. But with time, the riverbank turned into backyard of the city for dumping waste material. In fact, it has become difficult to walk on a few ghats. The riverfront development project would make the riverbank the most beautiful place in the city. My company, along with principal architect Nishant Lall, has suggested various attractive features, including colour lighting at different ghats, community-cum-ecological centre at Collectorrate Ghat, café and reading room at Patna College Ghat and two city-level parks.”

Convention hub

A dream project of Nitish, the convention centre would be developed over an area of 12 acres near Gandhi Maidan at an estimated cost of Rs 490 crore.

The main convention hall would have a seating capacity of 5,000. There would be several other halls of different capacities and its basement would have parking facility for 450 vehicles. The two parts of the complex would be linked with a subway. An entrance titled “Sabhyata Dwar” (gate of civilisation) would be an integral part of the convention centre, which would symbolise the heritage and civilisation of ancient, medieval and modern Bihar.

The foundation stone for the convention centre project was laid by Nitish on February 8 and the project is slated to be inaugurated by November 2015. A source in the building construction department, the nodal agency for the project, said excavation and foundation-level work for the main convention hall was going on at present.

Wrong one

Ganga Path — the 23.5-km-long four-lane expressway connecting the west and the east of the city along the bank of Ganga — could be a befitting “accessory” of the riverbank project.

Nitish had laid the foundation stone of the Rs 3,160-crore project at its starting point — Digha Ghat (near rail-cum-road bridge) — on October 11, 2013. But eight months down the line, the work has almost come to a standstill as the government failed to acquire the required land.