The Telegraph
Friday , April 4 , 2014
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Flyover braces for bumpiest part
Past court but not challenges

Portions of the Parama-Park Circus flyover that are still to be completed pose tougher challenges than the project has faced so far, engineers warned a day after Calcutta High Court broke the contract stalemate that had stalled work.

The state government convened a meeting on Thursday to take stock of the remaining work and said the project should resume at the earliest.

“Since it’s an ongoing project and the high court has passed an order to resume work, this project can start despite elections. We are taking necessary steps to start work as soon as possible,” Firhad Hakim, the minister for urban development and municipal affairs, said.

Hindustan Construction Company (HCC), which had completed 65 per cent of the flyover before work came to a standstill, on Wednesday received the high court’s signal to resume work and a deadline to wrap up the project by May 2016.

The Mumbai-based company, which had dragged the government to court over its decision to find a new contractor, has sought a few weeks to mobilise manpower and machinery. HCC’s original contract had been withdrawn last year over a cost-escalation dispute.

Thursday’s meeting, attended by representatives of several agencies involved in the project, discussed logistical challenges such as traffic management and shifting of underground utilities.

The 450-metre stretch from Bridge No. 4 in Park Circus till the AJC Bose Road flyover travels through congested pockets and a narrow corridor with heavy traffic headed east from central Calcutta and vice versa. The nearby seven-point crossing also could be a traffic-management nightmare with construction activity in its vicinity.

The utilities under the Bypass pose difficulties in terms of engineering and administrative management that weren’t faced earlier. “We have to find a way to keep traffic diversion to the minimum,” an official said.

He said the plan was to build pillars on either side of the road rather than the middle.

Portions of the project completed before the government withdrew HCC’s contract are all along the Bypass and the Park Circus connector, which have an average width of 18 metres and go up to 24 metres at some places. Congress Exhibition Road and Nasiruddin Road, where much of the remaining work will be centred, are 15 and 20 metres wide respectively.

“If pillars are built in the middle of these narrow roads, traffic won’t move. So it has been decided that the pillars will be placed where the footpaths are,” an official said. “There will be 60 pillars and an extra beam to strengthen the middle.”

Another reason to build pillars on the footpaths is to avoid damaging the underground utilities.

Congress Exhibition Road has a network of underground water pipelines connecting to private residences and the main supply line. Electricity cables of the CESC and sewer lines run alongside.

“There is a brick sewer under New Park Street between Bridge No. 4 and the seven-point crossing. It was constructed during the British era and no map is available to identify the exact location,” an official said.

Trial boring would be done and trenches dug to find out the location of the sewer, which would not only be time-consuming but also carry the risk of damaging the underground structure.

Engineers are also bracing for the challenge of dealing with the rows of shops on either side of Congress Exhibition Road, close to which they will raise pillars.

Nets will be used to ensure that objects don’t fall on vehicles or people, officials said.

The committee set up by the high court to oversee the progress of work is scheduled to hold its first meeting on April 10. The panel includes representatives of HCC, the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, CESC, various government departments, the commissioner of Calcutta police and the deputy commissioner of traffic police.

Minister Hakim said the government would extend “all cooperation” to ensure the project’s completion within the May 2016 deadline.

Sources said Thursday’s meeting was meant to show the Mamata Banerjee government’s keenness to finish the project that started in February 2010 and was supposed to be completed by August 2012.

The high court has asked HCC and the state government to approach it if either faces any difficulty in completing the city’s longest flyover.