Bihar now building one bridge a day, connecting people

Patna, Aug 1 (IANS) Bihar, now ranked among the fastest-growing Indian states with an enviable expansion of 16.59 percent last fiscal, has been building one bridge each working day since November 2005, leaving Chief Minister Nitish Kumar quite busy cutting ribbons.

‘We have built 1,671 bridges under the Chief Minister’s Bridge Building Programme and another 450-odd bridges under our plan and non-plan outlays since November 2005,’ says Bihar Road Construction Department Secretary Pratyay Amrit.

‘We built more than 2,100 bridges in last four-and-a-half years. That makes it close to one-and-a-half bridges every day. So, what we have achieved in the past four-odd years surpasses what was done in the past four decades,’ Amrit told IANS here.

As a result, the turnover of the state-run Bihar Rajya Pul Nirman Nigam Ltd, mandated to build bridges, has leapfrogged from just Rs.42.62 crore in 2004-05, under the previous government of Rabri Devi, to Rs.858 crore during 2008-09 with Kumar at the helm.

‘Our government is building bridges not only on rivers; it is also building bridges of trust in society, connecting people of different communities,’ says the chief minister often, underscoring the importance he attaches to infrastructure-building.

Bihar’s emphasis on this infrastructure is understandable, as its bridge-building spree has helped the state government to connect better with the people in trying to realise the stated goal: ‘Aap ki sarkar, aap ke dwaar’ (your government at your doorstep).

More so since the state is criss-crossed by over two dozens rivers, largely major ones, including, Ganga, Punpun, Sone, Falgu, Kiul, Durgawati and Karmnasa in south and central parts, and Kosi, Gandak, Burhi Gandak, Bagmati, Kamla and Mahananda in the the north.

‘Till last year, going to Patna was a herculean task for us as we had no bridges over Punpun. We either had to wade our way across, or rely on boats,’ said Sanjay yadav, a resident of Jamalpur village on the outskirts of the capital city across the river.

‘Even though our village is barely 20 km away from Patna we had to walk to the nearest pucca (all-weather) road first that was three kilometres away and then take a local transport that would go to Patna. Now we have three bridges near our village,’ Yadav told IANS.

‘The bridges are really a blessing for over 700,000 people who live in nearby villages. You can imagine how a river can cut people off — when you can virtually see the city across. Now, the bridges seem god-sent,’ added Rajaram Yadav, another villager.

Road Construction Secretary Amrit said the government was also targeting large projects — like in the case of Ganga that runs a 475-km west-to-east course in Bihar, dividing the state into two parts.

At present this river has only three bridges over it — the oldest a rail road bridge at Mokama in central Bihar, the second one in Patna in west-central part of the state and the third at Bhagalpur in its far-eastern side.

‘Now, we have undertaken to build two more mega bridges over the Ganga — one at its western end in the state connecting Arrah to Chapra and the second one at Patna, which will connect Bakhtiyarpur town in the district to Samastipur,’ Amrit said.

‘Similar plans are also on for many other mega bridges. These include two bridges each on Gandak and Koshi rivers and one each on Sone, Bagmati and Kamla.’

(Rana Ajit can be reached at rana.ajit@ians.in and biz@ians.in)

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