Bihar will have the country's longest rail-cum-road bridge over river Ganga, when it gets ready in three years time.
Union Minister of State for Railways, E Ahmed, said in Patna on Sunday that work on the 19 km rail-cum-road bridge over Ganga between Digha and Sonepur was progressing satisfactorily.
“The bridge is likely to be completed by December 2012. It’s going to be the longest rail-cum-road bridge of the country,” said the minister after inspecting the work progress on Sunday. Pleased with the progress, the minister also announced an award of Rs. 50,000 to the team erecting the bridge.
The minister, while detailing the features of the bridge said they would make maximum use of steel. “Out of the 39 pillars, 37 have been completed and work on pier cap and super structure is in full swing,” he said.
The IRCON, which has been awarded the contract to build the steel frame of the bridge, has already established its workshops – two on the northern end and one on the southern end of the bridge site — for making fabricated girders. “Each girder weighs nearly 300 tonne,” said the sources.
As per the original schedule, the bridge was to have been completed in 2007. After this the completion schedule got postponed to 2009 and the latest deadline is December 2012. The foundation for the 4.5 km long bridge was laid in 2002 and it was upgraded to a rail-cum-road overbridge in 2006. The total length of the rail-cum-road bridge is 19 km.
According to the Ministry of Programme Implementation and Statistics, the project had a cost overrun of 68 per cent till March 2009. It was approved in 2001 with a capital requirement of Rs. 624 crore, but will now cost around Rs. 1,366 crore. To be financed jointly by the Railways and the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the share of Railways will be Rs. 835 crore.
According to sources, changes in planning, lack of coordination between the two ministries and the delay in providing the detailed project report by the National Highway Authorities of India (NHAI) were the main reasons for the delay in completion of the project. Only about close to one third of the work on the project was completed till March this year, sources said.