May 29, 2004, the deadline for the under-construction flyovers, is too close for the state transport department’s comfort. The projects, funded by the Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC), are running well behind schedule and the fear of a funds freeze from the May date of financial closure of the project has pushed a jittery administration into overdrive.
About 600 metres of the superstructure is still to be completed for the AJC Bose Road flyover. Steel girders and railings are also to be done. “We have asked the contractor, Larsen & Toubro, to deploy more machinery at all work points,” said Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners (HRBC) vice-chairman Sadhan Banerjee, adding that “they are working overtime”.
According to HRBC officials, 60 per cent of the funds have been spent on the flyover in a little over two years and 40 per cent of the work must be completed in the next three months. This, they say, is “achievable”, as construction of roads below the flyover is not part of the immediate target.
A major part of the foundation-laying work is left for the Park Street flyover. Fifty per cent of the funds have been released, though nearly 80 per cent of the work remains to be done. Completing the flyover by November is “nearly impossible”. In Cossipore, too, 50 per cent of the work is pending. At Gariahat, three of the four approach roads are on the ‘to-do’ list, while at Esplanade, 30 per cent of the work lies ahead. “We are hoping to reach individual targets, but the idea is to get the entire work done by May 2004,” said Banerjee.
Till now, funds close to Rs 200 crore — of Rs 400 crore -— have been spent on the project. “We cannot ask the JBIC to extend the deadline. Even the Centre won’t allow an extension,” said joint secretary of the transport department Prashant.
A JBIC official told Metro from New Delhi: “It is the prerogative of the government to complete the flyovers within the stipulated time. We will have to close the loan on the deadline.”
At Writers’, the authorities are finally keeping watch. The joint secretary of the state transport department is overseeing the project on a daily basis. The chief secretary is reviewing it every two months and the transport secretary is monitoring it every month.