Monday, February 22, 2010

Minto Bridge project to miss deadline

Lack of coordination between implementing agencies; blame game continues

The plan to add two more tracks to the historic Minto Bridge in order to widen the heritage structure and enhance inter-State connectivity before the Commonwealth Games here will now miss its deadline.

The reason being lack of coordination between the implementing agencies as well practical difficulties in execution of the project given the existing traffic chaos around Connaught Place.

The decision to widen the bridge was taken in 2003 by Northern Railway to maintain uniformity as the road width below this bridge is narrow compared to the road width on either side. According to Northern Railway, the project was to be implemented jointly by Northern Railway, Municipal Corporation of Delhi and New Delhi Municipal Council as one side of the area falls under the MCD and the other in New Delhi Municipal Council jurisdiction.

A Northern Railway official said: “As per normal procedure, the proportionate cost of widening of the bridge is required to be shared by the MCD, the Railways and the NDMC. A sum of Rs.400 lakh was released during 2003-04 on the basic demand of the Railway authorities for the project.”

However, the MCD claims that although most part of the project remains on paper, the civic agency has already completed most work under its jurisdiction.

An MCD official said: “The MCD was supposed to construct a retaining wall on one side to widen the road falling under its jurisdiction. While the retaining wall has been constructed, we are currently shifting a pump to avoid rainwater stagnation under the bridge. The road will be widened after the pump is shifted.”

However, Northern Railway and NDMC have not carried out any work under their jurisdiction so far. The reason, according to Northern Railway, is delay in getting requisite permissions.

“If the work was to be carried out all vehicular traffic in the area would have been restricted for six months. The Delhi Police Commissioner refused to grant us permission to divert traffic saying that because of the ongoing work related to Connaught Place redevelopment and construction of subways in the area there was already enough traffic chaos,” a Northern Railway official said.

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