Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways & Micro, Medium and Small Enterprises (MSMEs), Nitin Gadkari inaugurated the upstream carriageway of Mahatma Gandhi bridge over River Ganga through video conference in Bihar on Friday. The union minister also announced a new 5 km bridge over the river in the city.
The over 5.5 km four lane bridge lies at National Highway-19 between Patna and Hajipur. It is being constructed at a cost of Rs 17.42 billion. It involves replacement of the existing concrete superstructure of the old bridge by a new steel deck superstructure. Work on this bridge was started in June 2017. The downstream lane is expected to be completed by 2021.
The new steel superstructure consisting of about 6,600 metric steel is being provided by replacing the existing old concrete superstructure. This kind of work that is being executed in the country for the first time. Beneficiary districts on the northern side of River Ganga include Hajipur, Chappra, Muzzafarpur, Samastipur, Darbhanga, Madhubani, Sitamarhi, Siwan and Eastern UP. And on the Southern side, Patna, Aara, Arwal, Jahanabad, Nalanda, Gaya, Aurangabad and Jharkhand.
Speaking on the occasion, Gadkari said that this was the first-ever bridge using modern technology for improving the existing structure. Calling it an engineering marvel, he said, it can be a good case study for civil engineering students. He announced a new bridge over river Ganga in Patna, which will be 5 km long, with larger spans to facilitate movement of ships under it. He said, its tender will be out next month, and the work will start soon. The proposed bridge is expected to be constructed at a cost of Rs 30 billion.
The minister recalled his dream of a national waterways network, under which three metre depth of water has been ensured in the River Ganga between Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh and Haldia in West Bengal. He said, dredging work had been completed between Prayagraj and Varanasi. In the next phase, one metre draft was being worked upon in the River Yamuna between Delhi and Prayagraj. He informed that Rs 120 billion worth detailed project report (DPR) had already been submitted to the World Bank for this phase. He hoped that soon his dream of waterway travel between Delhi and Haldia will become a reality.
Gadkari called upon the political leadership of the state of Bihar to consider adopting river transport on a large scale, as it was cheaper and environment friendly. By adopting river transport for commercial activities, he said, the governments and business community can easily reduce their logistics cost.
Gadkari informed that over Rs 100 billion worth of bridge work being undertaken in Bihar will transform employment scenario in the state. He advocated industrialisation to eradicate poverty, unemployment and hunger among large sections of population. He said real development can be achieved only by bringing the poor and unemployed people in the mainstream of economic activity. He suggested utilising the huge capacity of artisans and handicraft and handloom workers through development of MSME clusters along the highways.
The Union Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways, Gen (Retd) VK Singh gave the entire credit for speeding up the construction of this project to Gadkari. He said, the second phase of the project will be completed in the next 18 months. Singh informed that national highway works of Rs 300 billion will be undertaken for the overall progress of the state. He said, Rs 380 billion had already been transferred to farmers accounts towards land acquisition in Bihar.
The total length of national highways in Bihar is 5,301 km, which was 4,554 km during 2014. The total length has been increased by adding additional length of 747 Km new national highways. At present, various schemes for development of highways and bridges were in progress at a cost of about Rs 272.7 billion for the overall development of the state. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) had sanctioned more than Rs 100 crore to be distributed to the farmers as a compensation of their land being acquired for development of national highways.
Out of this, nearly Rs 68 billion had already been transferred directly to the affected farmers as a compensation for their land being acquired for development of national highways. The density of national highways per 1,000 sq. km in Bihar had increased to 57.06 km, which is equivalent to the average of various other states.
As Ganga and other rivers divide Bihar into various segments, development of bridges was required to connect all the parts of the state to fast-track development. Accordingly, MoRTH had sanctioned and taken up construction of five major bridges across rivers Ganga and Kosi namely at Buxar Bridge (Buxar), New Ganga Bridge (Patna), Vikramshila Bridge (Bhagalpur), Kosi Bridge (Madhepur-Bhagalpur) and Sahibganj Bridge (Katiyar-Sahibganj).