Saturday 27 May 2017 News Updated at 07:05 AM IST
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Patna Marine Drive to be an engineering marvel - Deccan Herald
Patna Marine Drive to be an engineering marvel
Abhay Kumar, Patna, DH News Service,
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Patna's own 'Marine drive' under construction. Photo: Mohan Prasad
The long-cherished dream to have Patna’s own Marine drive along the Ganga is likely to come true. Decks have been cleared for the execution of much-hyped but much-delayed Ganga Path Project after problem of land acquisition was resolved recently.

Touted as Mumbai’s Marine Drive along the south of Ganga with four-lane wide roads, the proposed 21.5-km long expressway connecting Digha to Deedarganj is estimated to cost Rs 3,160 crore.

A brainchild of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the swanky corridor on south of the riverside is supposed to not only ease traffic in Patna, but also reduce congestion on the national highway as heavy vehicles coming from the east and plying to Uttar Pradesh and other north Indian states need not enter the capital area.

The prestigious project, coming up on 530 acres of land on the banks of Ganga, was earlier sought to be executed on public-private-partnership (PPP) mode. Out of this 530 acres, 57 acres was private, and the rest government land. Incidentally, the land on the entire stretch covers three districts - Patna, Vaishali and Saran.

However, the ambitious Ganga Path project hit many a roadblock. During its initial bidding, not a single bidder turned up in the state capital, thereby forcing the Bihar government to extend the date of request for proposal, also commonly called financial bid.

With six short-listed infrastructure giants, including Simplex, Welspun, Nagarjuna Construction and Reliance Infrastructure, reporting no-show, the Bihar government decided to draw on the reserve bids and keep out the short-listed bidders.

After the state government’s efforts to execute it under the PPP model failed, the government opted for the engineering-procurement-construction model and awarded it to Hyderabad-based Navayuga Engineering Company Ltd (NECL).

The entire Ganga Path has been categorised into three zones - Digha to Krishna Ghat, Krishan Ghat to Mahatma Gandhi Setu, and MG Setu to Deedarganj. While first and third zones will come up on land, the second corridor stretching from Krishna Ghat to Mahatma Gandhi Setu is to be constructed along the edge of the Ganga river.

"Inordinate delay in land acquisition coupled with other related problems, the work remained stalled and the project got delayed by over two years,” said a senior official of the Bihar State Road Development Corporation Limited, which is the nodal agency for executing the project, conceptualised as a modern engineering marvel.

"Now that the land acquisition problem has been resolved and construction work picked up, the first phase of the driveway from Digha to Krishna ghat is likely to be over by June 2018,” the official added.

Nitish Kumar had laid the foundation for the project from Deedarganj in Patna to Digha on October 11, 2013 on the birth anniversary of his mentor Jaya Prakash Narayan.

Describing it as Patna’s own 'Marine Drive’, the Nitish government eventually named it as Loknayak Ganga Path. (The veteran Socialist leader JP was fondly known as Loknayak).

When completed, the 'Marine Drive' would prove to be a game-changer for the overcrowded city by effectively easing much of its traffic congestion. It would reduce travel time between Patna’s eastern and western ends from two hours to less than 25 minutes.

Besides, with the unique feature of an elevated 7.65-km structure and additional proposed features such as boulevards and jetties for boats to ply, the expressway would improve Patna’s physical infrastructure and the historical city’s aesthetics.

"Once completed, it will be an engineering marvel that will attract visitors not only from the state but also from outside," said Tejaswi Yadav, Bihar's Deputy Chief Minister, who is also minister for Road Construction, while inspecting the project.

For this ambitious scheme, the government has taken a loan of Rs 2,000 crore from Housing and Urban Development Corporation at a floating interest rate. The loan has to be repaid over a period of 16 years after the project's completion. The remaining Rs 1,160 crore will come from the government's own resources.

The Bihar government hopes to collect Rs 5,345.37 crore through toll collection in 20 years. Of the total project cost of Rs 3,160 crore, Rs 2,770 crore was allotted for construction expenditure and the rest Rs 390 crore for land acquisition. But just six months after work on it started in 2014, construction stopped for several months because the government failed to acquire the land required.

The entire process had been messy as the 530 acres of land required fell in three districts. Tejaswi cited issues such as getting environment clearance and rise in the Ganga water level during the monsoon period from June to September, as the reasons for the delay in executing the project.

"Once completed, a 'Civilisation Gate' would be constructed on the expressway and the city would be connected at nine different points. This pathway will not only de-congest Patna roads but bring people closer to the nature," said Tejaswi.