GUWAHATI, April 29 - The ongoing repair work on the Saraighat rail-cum-bridge bridge, being undertaken by the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), was affected to some extent in recent days on account of the Lok Sabha elections but the task has now been taken up once more �on a war footing�.
�The repair work on the old bridge started on March 23 after getting permission from the Traffic department, the Commissioner of Railway Safety, as well as the district administrations of Kamrup (Metropolitan) and Kamrup. There was some problem during the period of elections as many of the workers engaged in the repair work went to their respective native places to exercise their franchise. However, since yesterday, work has resumed on a war footing. Around 80 workers were engaged in the repair work yesterday on the bridge and today their numbers have crossed the one hundred mark,� NFR Public Relations Officer Nripen Bhattacharya told The Assam Tribune.
He added, �We are aiming at completing the entire work within schedule, if the weather conditions remain in our favour.�
NFR has taken a 90-day block for carrying out the repair work on the old Saraighat bridge, which is a rail-cum-road bridge. The repair is being undertaken at the upper deck or the road portion of the bridge.
Bhattacharya said that workers have been divided into four groups, with each section assigned for different activities, including dismantling and removing the old slabs on the deck, putting new slabs in place and wielding, shuttering and binding and cleaning up the place.
�Altogether 76 slabs are to be replaced. We are not going for mere repair of old slabs. Rather, we are removing the old slabs and replacing them with new ones. New generation concrete is being used for the purpose,� he said.
The entire work is being carried out by the Engineering department of the Railways under the supervision of highly trained engineers.
Bhattacharya said that the superstructure of the old Saraighat bridge remains in perfect working condition and train services are continuing normally in the lower deck or the rail portion.
�The bridge was inaugurated on July 7, 1963, but the structure remains in perfect condition. The Railways carries out periodic repair and maintenance works,� he added.
NFR had wanted to begin repair work immediately after the Magh Bihu in mid-January, but there was a delay of around two months in getting permission from various sides.
Asked about problems being faced by motorists due to traffic snarls at the spot as vehicular movements have been diverted to the new Saraighat bridge, which is a road-only bridge, Bhattacharya said that the Traffic department should look into the matter.
�Traffic control is not in our jurisdiction. It is the responsibility of the Traffic department,� said the NFR PRO.