DHEMAJI, April 25 � The Rs 2200 crore Bogibeel bridge, scheduled to be ready for traffic by end 2014, is all set to suffer further delays. If the current pace of work is taken into account, the sub structure of the 4.35 km long road cum rail bridge itself is unlikely to be ready by 2012.
Sources in the N F Railway today told this newspaper that the super structure of the bridge has run into technical delays at the Railway Board in New Delhi. This will result in severe construction delay of the bridge, as the Railway Board is yet to finalise the contractor(s) for the super structure. It is also gathered that certain re-designing work on the super structure is causing the delay. The sources said that unless the Prime Minister�s Office and the Railway Minister intervene, the bridge may not be commissioned before 2017.
The Bogibeel bridge project has also suffered severe cost escalation due to slow construction work. Initially it was estimated to cost Rs 1700 crore, but engineers involved with the project said the bridge may ultimately cost more than Rs 3000 crore. Fortunately, the cost over-run is not much of an issue, as Bogibeel has been declared a national project, and funding has been guaranteed by the Centre.
It needs to be mentioned here that the bridge is an outcome of a prolonged public demand, unlike the bridge across the Brahmaputra at Dholla, which came on a platter, with practically no serious public demand. The bridge at Dholla is being constructed to enable smooth construction of the mega hydel project in the Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh. In the case of the Bogibeel project, the chief beneficiaries would be the 35 lakh people residing in the four districts of Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Tinsukia and Dibrugarh, apart from facilitating shortened journeys for the people of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.
While there is an abysmally slow progress of work on the Bogibeel bridge proper, work on the rail and road approaches too is practically non-existent. The railways have connected the Dibrugarh � Moran � Simaluguri section on the south bank. However, work on converting the metre gauge Rangiya � Murkong selek section to broad gauge on the north bank remains a pipe dream.
Similarly, the PWD and the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) have done nothing more than preparing the highway alignment to connect national highways 52 and 37 on the two banks of the Brahmaputra, to be connected by the Bogibeel bridge. The land for the new connecting highway remains to be acquired. This would be followed by the actual road building works, which by itself would take at least five to seven years.
For the lakhs of people who are looking forward to the completion of the Bogibeel bridge to ease surface communication, the delays should come as a rude shock to their aspirations.