Bridge delay doubles cost to Rs 17cr

A seven-year delay in constructing a bridge connecting Birbhum and Murshidabad has more than doubled the cost estimated for the project.

By SNEHAMOY CHAKRABORTY in Labhpur
  • Published 18.10.17
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The unfinished bridge. (Sekh Abubakkar Siddik)

Labhpur: A seven-year delay in constructing a bridge connecting Birbhum and Murshidabad has more than doubled the cost estimated for the project.

An official of the public works department said the Gunutia bridge on the Mayurakshi was supposed to be built at a cost of around Rs 8 crore when the project was conceived in 2010. The revised cost is now Rs 17 crore.

"The reason behind the delay is the long time it took to make available the land for the approach roads. It involved negotiating with over 300 people whose land had been identified over the years," the official said.

Sources said the erstwhile Left government had towards the end of its regime started work on the bridge in a hurry, without adequate consideration for the land that would be required for the approach roads.

In December 2010, then PWD minister Kshiti Goswami had laid the foundation for the bridge to connect Bolpur and Murshidabad without settling the issue of land.

Azfar Ali, the executive engineer of the PWD in Birbhum overseeing the project, told this paper that it took the department over two years to convince the landowners to sell their plots. Only three pillars could be constructed in the first five years.

"Tedious legwork and dialogue of over two years ensured the willingness of landowners and farmers with a stake in the land. The cost has increased significantly," said Ali.

According to a senior PWD official in Birbhum, the cost of buying the land alone will come to around Rs 2.6 crore, much higher than the 2010 estimate.

Sources in the district administration said the bridge would reduce the distance between the two districts by around 30km.

They said the Trinamul government wanted to finish the bridge at the earliest so that it could be completed before the panchayat polls next year.

PWD officials, however, said the deadline looked unlikely at the moment.