NHAI to dismantle, redo Gandhi Setu

PATNA: The Union government will take over the Mahatma Gandhi Setu, the 29-year-old dilapidated road bridge over the Ganga river and dismantle its superstructure. “The National Highway Authority of India will be assigned the task to dismantle and redo the superstructure,” Union ministry of road transport and highways secretary A K Upadhyaya said on Monday.

Gandhi Setu

Gandhi Setu, 5575 metres in length and inaugurated in May 1982, was the longest river bridge in India at the time of its construction.

A Bihar-cadre IAS official, Upadhyaya held a meeting in this regard with state officials, including road construction department (RCD) secretary Pratyaya Amrit, on Monday. He also made a courtesy call to RCD minister Nandkishore Yadav during his visit to the state.

“NHAI will do a diagnostic study and we will take a call on what exactly is to be done with this bridge only after a technical survey,” said Upadhyaya who discussed the matter with Amrit in Delhi also three days ago. “The state government pleaded for the takeover of the bridge by the NHAI. The Centre has accepted this proposal,” the Union official said.

RCD minister Yadav said that the state’s request had been pending with the Union ministry for long. The NHAI has taken up the four-lane project on the Patna-Bakhtiarpur and Muzaffarpur-Chhapra route. But it had left out the stretch from Ramashish Chowk to Zero Mile between which the Gandhi Setu falls. “Now that the Centre has accepted our request, I expect the notification to be issued soon,” Yadav told TO and added that the communication would continue on one of the two lanes of the bridge even after the dismantling begins.

The state had been consistently demanding repair of the bridge. However, it was only after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh intervened that a team of the ministry of road transport and highways inspected the bridge recently. The team recommended the handover of the bridge to the NHAI for its comprehensive rehabilitation.

Gandhi Setu’s one lane was opened for traffic in 1982 and the other in 1987. As per the official records, the government has collected Rs 134.45 crore as toll from 1982-83 till March this year whereas the total cost on the construction of the bridge was Rs 87.22 crore.

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