GUWAHATI: In what can best be called a 'sheer laidback attitude', a bridge that was supposed to be completed in 18 months couldn't be completed in 18 years. The original estimated cost of the bridge was Rs 6.98 crore that escalated to Rs 10.30 crore.
In this time and cost overruns, the target beneficiaries of the bridge have been made to bear the brunt.
The bridge is over the Kopili River in Raha LAC (Legislative Assembly Constituency) at Kachau Parghat. If completed, this bridge will be the lifeline for the residents of Bhakatpara, Gaspara, Garo Gaon, Balikuchi etc areas. For the people of these areas, the country boat is the only mode of transportation to cross the Kopili.
Under the initiative of the then Congress MLA Late Anandaram Baruah the foundation stone of the bridge was laid on July 1, 2003, by the then PWD Minister Sarat Barkataky. Laying the foundation stone, Barkataky said that the bridge would take 18 months to be completed. Eighteen years have already elapsed after laying the foundation stone, but the bridge is yet to see the light of the day.
After Late Anandaram Baruah, AIUDF's Guneswar Das became the MLA from Raha LAC. He made it to the State Assembly with the pre-poll promise of completing the bridge during his five-year tenure. Das failed to live up to his promise in five years.
Pijush Hazarika was then elected as an MLA from Raha LAC on a Congress ticket. He restarted the bridge, but couldn't complete it.
Then BJP's Dimbeswar Das was elected from Raha LAC. He too failed to complete the bridge as promised in the run-up to the election.
This time, Congress leader Sashikanta Das has been elected from the Raha constituency.
During the 18 years, the affected people of the area staged dharnas, submitted memorandums etc to the authorities concerned, but to no avail. Their agitations made the department restart the work of the bridge only to put it on hold again.
According to sources in the PWD, the work of the bridge has been delayed because of negligence on the part of contractors and lack of continuous fund flow from the department, besides the outbreak of corona last year and this year. However, now the department hopes to complete the bridge within two or three months.
A pertinent question is: why hasn't the department fixed the responsibility for the delay of the work of the bridge, leading to time and cost escalation?
This is just an example. There are many such bridges in the State that have been left half-done. A few piles of bridges or half-done bridges are seen in various locations in the State. Apart from the problems for the target beneficiaries, such delayed projects are major holes in the State exchequer.
It's imperative on the part of the Department to conduct a survey of incomplete bridges and segregate them as 'feasible' and 'not feasible' ones to let the public know the situation. The department should also abandon the bridges that are not feasible.