The proposed rail-cum-road bridge over the Ganga has turned out to be a poll issue in the historic town of Munger.
It’s been almost 13 years since the construction began on this bridge. In 2002, then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had laid the foundation of the 3.90 km bridge online to connect Munger with Khagaria, as part of a major development initiative.
The project cost has now gone up to Rs 2,500 crore from the original estimate of Rs 930 crore, but the bridge remains incomplete.
Once completed, the bridge will serve as the main link connecting north and south-east Bihar regions via Munger and Khagaria.
“Munger, which occupied a prominent place in history and religious scriptures, is struggling still to shed its notorious image of being a hotbed of illegal firearms. The bridge had raised hope of ushering in some development activity. However, staggered deadline of the project leaves us disappointed,” lamented Sumant Rai, a native of Govindpur locality.
Munger has not witnessed any perceptible change in decades, even though the ITC chose to set up its mother plant for various cigarette brands because of easy availability of raw material and other resources.
“In the absence of any reliable communication link, people of Khagaria and Sahebpur Kamal have to rely on the heavily congested Vikramshila setu near Bhagalpur to cross over,” opined Naushad Mian of Rahimpur, a nondescript village of Khagaria on the banks of Ganga.
“Besides housing one of the oldest forts in the country, the city also draws good number of Hindu devotees for a holy bath in the Ganga because of its peculiar course. Notwithstanding all its fame, the city fails to draw the attention of policy makers,” says Sandip Banerjee of PC Dutta colony at a tea stall near the Munger fort.
A group of women devotees on the way to the cave of Chandika Sthan, one of the 64 Shaktipeeths, were perplexed when asked about the best political option this time around.
“Nitish Kumar is a good leader, but it’s a blunder to tie-up with others. That has confused several people,” said Sushila Devi of Patam.
Rukhsana Bano, who owns a bangle shop at Siswa on the way to Parbatta from Maheshkhuntadmits the area has hardly witnessed any change during the past five years, except the number of vehicles on roads.
“Unemployment remains a bane. Our children generally have to go to other states to work still. But, we feel more safe and comfortable now,” she said.