For over a year, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has been pursuing the construction of a bridge across the Fulahar river in order to connect the villages of Mahanandatola and Belaimari in Malda district of West Bengal with the mainland as well as Katihar district in Bihar.
According to sources, Mr. Mukherjee first took up the matter with Union Road Transport and Highways Minister C.P. Joshi but the Planning Commission showed the red flag.
Mr. Mukherjee then got in touch with Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and requested him to approve the project, estimated to cost about Rs. 218.76 crore.
Mr. Ahluwalia subsequently gave his approval in a letter to Dr. Joshi, though no funds were allocated for the project under the Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) of Rs. 23,000 crore for the 2012-13 annual plan.
He has permitted the Road Transport and Highways Ministry, which will be executing the project, to allocate money from the GBS “in view of the importance of this bridge” stressing that additional funds could be provided at the revised estimates stage.
The Ministry has now asked the State government to prepare a detailed project report as it intended to finalise the funding aspects by July so that the foundation stone could be laid sometime between September and October.