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Highway to highway by Ganga

Riverbank driveway will link number of national highways to let traffic bypass Patna

Bihar has set out to match Mumbai with its own version of the Marine Drive. The 21.5km Ganga Path,coming up in Patna by June 2015,will be one of the country’s biggest public-private-partnership projects at an estimated cost of Rs 2,234.46 crore.

The Bihar State Road Development Corporation will in November finalise one of six leading construction companies that it has shortlisted. The government has signed a deal with Transparency International to ensure transparency in the bidding process.

The driveway has been a dream project for the government since Nitish Kumar’s first term. What held it up so far was efforts to convince the Centre’s empowered committee for PPP projects that it would be worth spending so much on a project “just for decongesting Patna traffic”. The state government eventually pushed it through on the ground that it would “decongest the traffic load from five national highways passing through Patna; decongesting city traffic is only a happy coincidence”.

The Centre will bear 20 per cent of the cost,the state 20 per cent,and the winning bidder the rest. If a company bids more than 60 per cent,which is likely,the state government’s share will go down by that difference.

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“The Ganga Path will have a pan-Bihar significance. It will be an arterial route for those using five national highways connected to Patna,” Nitish Kumar said. It would also enhance the Ganga’s public significance and pave the way for beautification of the city along the stretch,the chief minister said.

The estimate is that the driveway,when ready,will bear about 14,000 vehicles using the national highways everyday,and take at least 30 per cent off the city’s traffic load. It will become a key link in the journeys to Nepal in the north and to Haldia/Paradip ports in the east.

Along the driveway from Digha to Didarganj will be two major bridges connecting Patna to the educational and industrial hubs of Hajipur and Muzaffarpur. One of them,towards the western end at Digha,will be completed by this year-end. The other one,Mahatma Gandhi Setu near the eastern end,is already in place. About a third (7.5km) of the driveway will be an elevated stretch over low-lying areas.

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The six companies were selected from 12 proposals at the stage of request for qualification,including from companies based in Malaysia,Austria and Spain. “The government also proposes parallel development of hotels,restaurants,a plaza and parks along both sides of the proposed stretch,” BSRDC managing director Pratyay Amrit said. “We are ensuring the flagship project has superior hydraulic measures to protect it from flooding and erosion.”

Amrit listed six highways the project will connect. NH 19 to Ghazipur can be reached via the upcoming bridge at Digha. NH 98 to Aurangabad and NH 84 to Buxar will be accessible to traffic from the direction of Bhagalpur without going through Patna. The other links are NH 30 (to Bakhtiyarpur),its offshoot NH-31 (to Rajauli) and NH 77 (to Muzaffarpur),connected via the MG Setu.

“The Ganga Path will also mean that people can travel from one end of the city to the other end in just 30 minutes instead of two hours,” said Road Construction Minister Nand Kishore Yadav. He said the old part of the city,now cluttered,can expand on account of the new connectivity it will get. The project will include wide approach roads to all main parts of the state capital.

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The Ganga Path will be a toll road,with charges on 40 per cent of the traffic expected to use it. The construction company will collect the toll for 25 years,which will exclude the time of construction.

First published on: 24-05-2012 at 02:22:17 am
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