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PWD in a hurry after Abhishek Banerjee announces road overbridge at Cooch Behar’s Haldibari

Abhishek at public meeting in Dhupguri, Jalpaiguri, on Friday promised to complete Haldibari RoB in six months from time polls are over

Pranesh Sarkar Calcutta Published 15.04.24, 10:13 AM
Abhishek Banerjee

Abhishek Banerjee File picture

The top brass of the public works department went into a huddle on Friday night, four hours after Trinamul national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee announced a road overbridge (RoB) at Cooch Behar’s Haldibari.

Abhishek at a public meeting in Dhupguri, Jalpaiguri, on Friday promised to complete the Haldibari RoB in six months from the time polls are over.


The PWD met to find out ways to finish the project in six months, sources said.

“The public meeting of Abhishek ended around 5.30pm and the PWD held the meeting around 9pm where chief engineers of north Bengal and headquarters (Calcutta) were present. The meeting was held after the top brass of Nabanna asked the PWD to find out ways to complete the project in six months,” said a senior bureaucrat.

The proposed bridge at Haldibari — located in Cooch Behar district and some 26km from Jalpaiguri — is on the India-Bangladesh border. The town comes under Mekhliganj Assembly seat under the Jalpaiguri Lok Sabha seat.

“We have come to know that a 150-metre-long road overbridge is required in Haldibari town over the tracks. This will reduce the inconvenience for around one lakh people. A sum of Rs 18 to 20 crore is required for the project. Let me assert that the state government will build it within six months of the elections,” Abhishek had said.

In Haldibari, the railway tracks, which also connect Bangladesh, cut through the middle of the town. As trains move frequently, people wait to cross over to the other side of the town.

Sources said a team of PWD officials visited the Haldibari site on Saturday and took measurements.

Some bureaucrats wondered if the same alacrity had been shown to other projects, including 21 road overbridges sanctioned in 2014-15, most of which are incomplete.

“The meeting does not violate the model code of conduct as nothing is commissioned.... But it sends a wrong message if the department restricts its promptness only for projects announced by Abhishek Banerjee,” said an official.

“People of Suri, Bishnupur, Bhedia and Talit — places where the RoBs could not be completed in the past eight to 10 years — may be forced to believe that these projects won’t get complete till Abhishek promises they will,” said a bureaucrat.

A source said that completing the RoB by December is almost impossible with the general election over in June.

Under norms, if the RoB comes over a state highway, the state has to put forward a proposal to the railways. The railways order a survey to find out the TVU (traffic vehicle unit) on the crossing where the RoB is proposed. If the TVU exceeds one lakh in 24 hours, only then does the railways give permission for a RoB.

Sources said that the vulnerability of a level crossing is measured in terms of TVU, obtained by multiplying the number of trains with the number of vehicles passing over the level crossing in 24 hours, where, train, road vehicle, bullock carts and tangas are considered one unit each and cycle rickshaw and autorickshaw half a unit each. The survey is done for a week to get the average 25-hour TVU at a crossing.

“Once the state gets permission, it prepares a DPR to be approved by the railways. Then, the state floats tenders. There is also a question of arranging land. December appears to be a tough deadline,” the source said.

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