In this great debate, the real suffering is faced by millions of state population who are totally dependent on this to get connected with the state’s capital.
Bihar government accused the Centre of endangering lives of thousands of people by not repairing the Gandhi Setu over the Ganga at Patna and the national highways in other parts of the state. “Gandhi Setu is on a ventilator due to the Centre’s apathy,” said road construction department (RCD) minister Rajiv Ranjan Singh ‘Lallan’ on Monday.
Singh said Union surface transport minister Nitin Gadkari had three months back promised repair of the bridge. But its condition has worsened further. Spans 34 and 35 of the bridge have tilted further, causing concern to the state government. The western flank of the bridge is already closed due to damages and the eastern side is carrying loads of both the routes. The Rajendra bridge over the Ganga at Mokama is also in poor shape and movement of heavy vehicles has been prohibited since September 2013.
The minister said he met the Union minister, seeking immediate repair of the two bridges. “But the Centre is playing with the lives of people… These bridges may collapse any time,” he feared and added he has set up a three-member committee of chief engineers of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), RCD’s South Bihar division and Pul Nirman Nigam’s, to study the condition of Gandhi Setu and submit a report within a fortnight.
With the commissioning of Digha-Chapra and Ara-Doriganj bridges over the Ganga by May 15, 2015, Singh hoped, traffic would be diverted to the new bridges for links between north and south Bihar. Singh said many NHs in the state were more dilapidated than even rural roads. The condition of NH 30 between Patna and Ara, NH 84 between Ara and Buxar, NH 85 between Chhapra and Gopalganj, NH 31 between Bakhtiarpur-Mokama and Khagaria, NH 28A between Motihari and Raxaul and NH 80 between Bhagalpur and Kahalgaon was worse than village roads, he said.
“An NHAI engineer’s wife was a contractor for one section of the NH, and Rs 80 to Rs 90 crore was spent by her on paper for so-called repairs,” the Bihar minister said and added he has demanded a CBI probe into repair of the road by the company owned by the said engineer’s wife. Singh said NHAI officials were so incompetent that they did not even send a requisition for acquisition of land for a 7km approach road for Digha-Chhapra Ganga bridge. He asked the Saran DM on Saturday to hold a meeting with NHAI officials and acquire the land on lease basis.