New bridge, new ring road

CM makes announcement while reviewing work by road construction & transport departments

By Dev Raj
  • Published 31.08.17
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A new bridge will come up adjacent to the Mahatma Gandhi Setu (in picture) to connect the state capital with Hajipur in Vaishali district

The Bihar government today announced a new bridge adjacent to the existing Mahatma Gandhi Setu across the Ganga to connect Patna with Hajipur in Vaishali district. It also declared construction of a new bypass, christened Patna Outer Ring Road (PORR), in view of the new master plan of the city and continuously increasing traffic.

The announcements came after chief minister Nitish Kumar reviewed progress of work by the road construction and transport departments at his secretariat. Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, road construction department (RCD) minister Nand Kishore Yadav and senior officials attended the meet.

Patna, with a 20 lakh population and an equal number of people commuting daily for work, badly needs steps to decongest the city. The 5.8-km-long Mahatma Gandhi Setu across the Ganga on National Highway-19 was inaugurated in 1982 and is considered the connecting lifeline for north and south Bihar. But it is currently undergoing repair at a cost of Rs 1,742 crore.

"Construction of an additional four-lane bridge adjacent to the Mahatma Gandhi Setu has been approved by the state government. It will link Zero Mile in Patna to Ramashish Chowk (in Hajipur) and will be developed as 'New Gandhi Setu'," chief secretary Anjani Kumar Singh said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the bridge across the Ganga as part of his Rs 1.25 lakh crore special package to Bihar in the run-up to the Assembly polls.

Modi said the Centre would spend Rs 5,000 crore on the bridge. But the state government was asked to find a suitable location. Work is gathering pace after Nitish left the Grand Alliance for the NDA.

RCD principal secretary Amrit Lal Meena said the state government would not face any land problem, as around 60-80m-wide land next to the Setu was acquired when it was being built in the 1970s. Land is available on both sides of the new bridge and will be used to build approach roads.

"Though the cost of the bridge was kept at Rs 5,000 crore when the central government announced it, we have made a DPR (Detailed Project Report) of Rs 3,000 crore. It will be sent to the ministry of road transport and highways, which will decide which agency will build it," Amrit said.

The outer ring road has been sanctioned for Patna in the new Master Plan for the city. It will be developed along State Highway-78. It will start at Kanhauli near Bihta, 40km southwest of Patna and run through a 50km stretch connecting Naubatpur-Lakhna-Daniyawan-Fatuha-Kachchi Dargah. It will serve as the third bypass for Patna after the Old Bypass at Kankerbagh and the New Bypass on the outskirts.

The outer ring road will terminate at Kachchi Dargah where a proposed six-lane bridge across the Ganga will connect it to Bidupur in Vaishali district. This bridge will also be part of the National Highway Authority of India's proposal to develop NH-103 that will travel westwards across Vaishali and Saran districts, cross the Ganga again near Doriganj in Chhapra, head to Koilwar and enter Patna district to connect Kanhauli and complete the 'ring'.

Nitish also discussed the 552km, under-construction Indo-Nepal Border Road Project, which is jointly being built by the central and state governments at a total cost of Rs 5,000 crore. The project was damaged at several places during the floods. Nitish said he has asked the Prime Minister to take a relook to make suitable arrangements of cross drainage and other facilities to save it from damage in future floods as it was a vital infrastructure connected to national security. An official request will be made to the Centre soon.

The state government also decided to convert all state highways into two-lane roads with paved shoulders. Of 4,005 km of state highways in Bihar, 2,700km have been already converted into two-lane roads, but 1,300km still remain. "The remaining state highways will be converted into two-lane roads with paved shoulders in the next three years," the RCD principal secretary said.

Nitish asked officials to expedite implementation of the road safety policy to check accidents, especially at "black spots" or places that are highly accident prone. A corpus of Rs 125 crore has already been instituted for this.

The chief minister also directed officials to use latest software-based technology for tax collection and preparing an online database of vehicles and their history of violations of traffic rules. Weigh bridges will be established at different places and the old ones will be revived to check overloading of goods trucks, which damage roads.

"We have decided to bring a scheme to motivate people to use environment-friendly vehicles, including CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) and battery-based ones. Subsidy could be provided to their users. We have also decided to revive Bihar State Road Transport Corporation and bring a policy of incentives for people who make online payments to the transport department," the chief secretary added.