GUWAHATI, Sept 8 - The September 5 major boat tragedy has finally opened the eyes of the authorities, who are now making haste to complete the long-dreamt-of bridge over the Brahmaputra linking Guwahati and North Guwahati.
But if one goes through the following passages, one would understand why the plan for the bridge had remained un-implemented so long. There was a dream for building a road bridge over the Brahmaputra to connect Guwahati with North Guwahati. Dreams were also there for more such bridges over the mighty river to connect Guwahati with North Guwahati. Had any of these dreams been translated into reality, the boat tragedy that occurred on Wednesday, could have been prevented.
According to knowledgeable circles, the Department of Finance had proposed a road bridge to connect Guwahati with North Guwahati with funds from the Assam Infrastructure Financing Authority (AIFA). The AIFA was set up to build infrastructure in the State with the surplus money available with the State government during the previous regime.
The proposed road bridge between Guwahati and North Guwahati was the first initiative taken by AIFA. RITES Ltd of the Indian Railways, which is a multi-disciplinary consultancy organisation in the fields of transport, infrastructure and related technologies, was engaged to conduct the pre-feasibility study for this bridge. And RITES gave a positive report stating that a six- lane, 1.8km-long bridge, connecting Fancy Bazar in Guwahati with Rajaduar in North Guwahati, was possible at a cost of around Rs 1,600 crore. RITES was paid Rs 4 crore to conduct the study.
The proposed bridge would have its main Guwahati abutment located at Fancy Bazar and it would have had two arms extended to the Bharalumukh point and a point near the Kamrup (Metro) Deputy Commissioner�s office via Sukreswarghat. The proposed bridge would also have had a provision for metro rail in it.
The Department of Finance then handed over the rest of the job to the State�s Public Works Department (PWD). The assignments left to the PWD included engaging a consultancy firm to prepare the detailed project report (DPR) of the project and to implement the project. It was assured that the funds required for the purpose would be made available by the AIFA.
The then Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi approved the proposal and announced in the State Assembly during one of his budget speeches either in 2008 or in 2009, that the government was for constructing a road bridge over the Brahmaputra to connect Guwahati with North Guwahati.
Following all these developments, the Department of Finance also wrote to the State�s revenue department to freeze sale and purchase of land near the North Guwahati abutment of the proposed bridge so that speculative rise in land price there could be pre-empted.
But the PWD did not take any action on this proposal. Instead, it came with an alternative proposal for a road bridge over the Brahmaputra connecting Chunchali in the city with Dumni Chawki on the north bank. The finance department approved this bridge too and released the required amount needed for consultancy services for that bridge. The PWD was learnt to have contacted a foreign consultancy firm for the purpose.
Our City Correspondent adds: Construction of the much-awaited Guwahati-North Guwahati bridge will start by the end of this year. Sources in the Public Works Department (Roads) said the foundation stone for the bridge is scheduled to be laid in December.
�The bridge will be constructed with a financial assistance of around Rs 2,000 crore from the New Development Bank (formerly referred to as the BRICS Development Bank). The bridge will be completed in around four years. The detailed project report is also complete and the land acquisition work is in progress,� official sources said.