Patna: Come June and both flanks of the reconstructed 5.57km long Mahatma Gandhi Setu —a lifeline for communication between North and South Bihar—will be opened for traffic.
Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has given his consent to formally inaugurate the bridge in the first week of June. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will also grace the occasion.
State Road Construction Department (RCD) Minister Nitin Nabin said: “Final touches are being given to the eastern flank of the bridge over the river Ganga, being reconstructed by the Union ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) under the Prime Minister’s package to Bihar, before its formal inauguration,” said Nabin.
The western flank of the bridge built in two-lanes at the cost of Rs 1,742 crore was opened for traffic by Gadkari on July 31, 2020. However, that was unable to cater to heavy load of traffic crossing the river, which often resulted in massive jams on both sides of the bridge for many hours. Heavy vehicles have the nearest bridge on the river Ganga to cross over is in Bhojpur, which is around 35km west of the existing MG Setu, as the rail-cum-road bridge as JP Setu is not opened for restricted for goods careers.
Nabin further said that the Union Minister would also review various ongoing projects in the state on May 31, during which the RCD would raise the demand for formal approval to the proposed extension of Purvanchal Expressway from Buxar to Bhagalpur under Bharat Mala Phase-II. “We will also urge the Union Minister to step up the process for building Raxaul-Haldia expressway via Patna and expedite preparation of detailed project report (DPR) of Naubatpur-Aurangabad four-lane road,” said the RCD Minister.
Officials of the Bihar Chamber of Commerce and Industries (BCCI) and truck owners’ association said that they have been anxiously waiting for the opening of both flanks of the bridge, as frequent traffic jams on MG Setu have badly hampered their businesses. “Cost of transportation has gone up due to frequent chocking of traffic on MG Setu,” said president of Bihar Truck Owners’ Association Bhanu Shekhar Prasad Singh.
As part of the Prime Minister’s package to Bihar, the MoRTH had taken up the task to reconstruct the outdate 39-year-old cantilever bridge over the river Ganga and awarded the work to the Afcons Infrastructure limited at the cost in 2017. The construction firm launched its work in June and it was told to finish the project by November 2018. However, the project’s deadlines had jumped many times for multiple factors, including the Covid pandemic.
Inaugurated as the longest bridge on the river in India by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1982, Mahatma Gandhi Setu went in to repair mode since 1999 and it remained so till 2016, until the remained the Central government approved its reconstruction plan. About Rs 250 crore is said to have been spent on its repair, even as the original construction cost was Rs 87 crore.