Vijayawada

A bridge too far

On June 25, 2012, the then Leader of the Opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu tore apart the ruling Congress party over its refusal to accede to the public demand for construction of a flyover citing infeasibility of the structure on the narrow stretch between Krishna river and Indrakeeladri.

"If the Chief Minister and Union Minister cannot do it, let them give up and send their engineers to me. I shall build the flyover in a year without troubling traffic," Mr. Naidu said addressing a huge gathering of enthusiastic locals and party activists at the Maha Dharna for flyover at Kummaripalem, the place where Kanakadurga Flyover is now coming up.

Towards the end of the meeting, Mr. Naidu said the Telugu Desam Party would complete the flyover in 12 months after coming to power in 2014, forcing the then Union Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways visit the city and promise the people of completing the flyover by revoking its earlier proposal to shelve the project.

Four years later, now, the Telugu Desam Party is facing criticism for not being able to complete the project and keep its promise made in the election manifesto. As of this week, 78% of the project with the unique and complex design of six-lane corridor on a single pillar was completed. The project is taken up by the State’s R&B Department because of its high budget, that is, ₹307 crore for just the flyover part.

Until now, only two such projects were executed in the country and the first one to complete took at least three and half years, G. John Moshae, R&B Superintending Engineer and in-charge of the flyover project, said.

Whatever the technicalities, the delay was so long that the Opposition parties are portraying it as an example of the TDP government’s inability to develop infrastructure and point out the capital construction would meet the same fate.

The reason for the delay in completion of the project is no secret. Though the flyover was given high priority by the Chief Minister, works began with bhumi puja exactly three years ago on November 22, 2015, and several events that were also the priority of the government and the public, like Krishna Pushkaralu, caused the works to halt in frequent intervals for years.

The city TDP was so eager to set the project in motion that Member of Parliament Kesineni Srinivas in June 2014 visited the area where the flyover is needed a week after the party formed the government, and announced that it would be completed in three years, including one year for paperwork and two for execution. The government announced that it would finish the project in record time before Krishna Pushkaralu in August 2016.

Since then, the project kept missing deadlines owing to frequent public events like Dasara festival, shopping festivals and others by various departments of the government. The latest event to interrupt the flow of work is the world powerboating championship being held at Bhavani Island.

"Before the recent Dasara, we have roped in 60 labourers to take up the work of viaduct between the elevated corridor in eastern main canal and NH near Padmavathi Ghat. Unfortunately, the viaduct construction area was given for Kanakadurga Temple’s tonsuring facility and the works were postponed for 10 days. But the labourers did not wait and left the contractors. We are still looking for labourers now," an official of R&B told The Hindu, giving an example of how the interruptions cost the project.

Not just that, the machinery, material, manpower and even the contractor meant for the project were used for other projects, including the ghat construction before Pushkaralu, officials say.

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Printable version | Aug 14, 2020 7:38:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/a-bridge-too-far/article25527091.ece

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