Union Cabinet okays new river bridge over Narmada at Bharuch


Ahmedabad, 26 December 2013

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its approval for six laning of the Vadodra-Surat section of National Highway-8 including construction of a new four lane extra dosed bridge across the Narmada River and two eight lane flyovers from Jhagadia and Bharuch city under the NHDP Phase V.

The cost is estimated to be Rs. 503.16 crore including Rs.17 crore as the cost of land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities. The total length of the road will be approximately 6.7 kms. The project is covered in the district of Bharuch.

It is learnt that the work will be taken up through complete government funding. The proposed bridge is expected to reduce frequent traffic jams on this stretch connecting Mumbai to Ahmedabad.

Seeking quick approval to this project, Rajya Sabha MP and senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel had threatened to sit on fast in a letter to the prime minister. He had also demanded to take up this project through government funding, so that the bridge could remain free from toll tax.

Though the project of six lane river bridge over Narmada river in Bharuch district was approved by the central government as early as in October 2009, the work actually didn’t start! After two and half years, in March 2012(state election year), Ahmed Patel visited Bharuch and announced ground breaking of bridge project on 1st May, 2012 Gujarat day. Ahmed Patel who had represented Bharuch in Lok Sabha in the past had announced that the design of new bridge over Narmada will be similar to a second Vivekananda bridge (Nivedita bridge) of Kolkata(in photo in this article).

It was expected that construction would start soon and a new bridge will give relief to the people, fed up with frequent traffic jam on Zadeshwar-Sardar bridge section of national highway no. 8. The problem of traffic jam is so serious on this section of highway that sometimes it takes two-three hours to pass through four km distance between Mulas cross roads and Zadeshwar cross roads.

However the work couldn’t just start. Congress lost all seats in Bharuch district(due to other reasons too, but broken promise over a bridge was also an issue). The situation went worst this year when existing Sardar bridge was closed for heavy traffic due to Rs. 40 crore repair work. Union government has on record titled Ahmedabad-Mumbai national highway as the busiest highway in India. Union minister Oscar Fernandese himself visited Bharuch to take stock of the traffic and bridge construction situation here. However construction of promised bridge just didn’t kick off.

It is learnt that the project was bagged by a subsidiary of infrastructure major Hindustan Construction Company, which had offered annual upfront revenue of Rs 222 crore to National Highways Authority of India. The company was entrusted with the task of developing and operating for 12 years by collecting toll. However after the contract was signed between NHAI and the company, the private developer failed to arrange fund from banks and financial institutions to start work. Finally, it walked out of the project this year paying penalty.


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