Work on erecting six of the 18 piers of the new Tallah bridge, which will come up between train tracks, is yet to start because the railways has not provided the necessary approval for the use of its land, PWD officials have said.
The foundation of four of the remaining 12 pillars has already been laid.
A railway official denied any “deliberate delay” in issuing the clearance. “Several minute details need to be checked and it usually takes some time. This is the thumb rule for any rail over bridge (the Tallah bridge will be one such),” the official said.
The old Tallah bridge, which was a crucial link between Calcutta and the northern fringes, was pulled down a few months ago because it had worn out so much that engineers feared the structure could collapse any moment.
A General Arrangement Drawing (GAD), outlining how the piers will come up on railway land to hold a deck slab atop the tracks, was prepared after several rounds of inspection of the site by representatives of the railways and the PWD between July and August.
After a consensus was reached over how things would shape up, the PWD submitted a detailed scheme to the railways in September seeking approval. The assumption was that since railway officials involved in the project had been aware of how the railway land would be utilised for the Tallah bridge, the approval would come within a few weeks.
Nearly three months on, the approval is yet to reach the state government. As a result engineers at the site are unable to plan the construction of the six pillars.
The bridge will be constructed over seven pairs of railway tracks. “Six of the 18 piers of the bridge will be constructed between the tracks. Since the land belongs to the railways, work on the piers cannot start without its consent,” a PWD official said. “We have had several rounds of joint inspection before the GAD was drawn up and the scheme was submitted to the chief bridge engineer of the railways.”
The Majerhat bridge, too, had faced a hurdle when the railways sent back the GAD to the state government for further scrutiny by structural experts. The move had allegedly delayed the completion of the project.
On Thursday, while inaugurating the Majerhat bridge, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said she didn’t blame the railway officers but their bosses for the delay.
“It is not that I am against the railways. I have been a railways minister and know the rules. I am not blaming the officers or the department. I will blame the leaders who pull the strings from Delhi,” Mamata said.
The 750-metre-long Tallah bridge will have six piers at the Shyambazar-end and another six at the Dunlop-end. In the middle, six pillars on railway land will support the 200-metre-long deck slab over train tracks.
On Thursday, engineers said work on laying the foundation was over for three out of the six piers at the Shyambazar-end and one of the piers at the Dunlop-end. The foundation of each of these piers is at a depth of nearly 45 metres below the surface.
“We handed over the site to L&T (which will build the bridge) in July. The Tallah bridge will be completed within 18 months of the handover. Despite the challenges, the deadline will be met,” a state government official said.