Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today laid foundation stones, inaugurated and dedicated development projects valued altogether at Rs 19,500 crore including a Rs 5,000 crore bridge over the Ganga near Patna.
Today's programme came five days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced sanctioning of a whopping Rs 1.25 lakh crore package for the poll-bound state.
The six-lane, 9.76 km bridge will be a cable-stayed one, and is supposed to be the longest river bridge in the country on completion. In addition, it will have a combined approach of 13 km on its either ends.
The bridge will run parallel to the existing Mahatma Gandhi Setu and connect NH 30 near Kachchi Dargah near here and NH 103 near Biddupur in Vaishali district.
The bridge will connect the huge Raghopur riverine land in Vaishali which has always been difficult to access and has a population of over 1 lakh.
"This is going to be a very big project and the foundation stone has been laid after completing all measures. We have taken a loan of Rs 3,000 crore for it from Asian Development Bank. The state government will provide the remaining Rs 2,000 crore," Kumar said on the occasion.
"We had been working for it since 2010, when I had visited Raghopur to campaign for Assembly polls and the people there demanded a bridge," he said.
On the delay in the much-needed bridge as the existing Mahatma Gandhi Setu is in a dilapidated condition, Kumar said initially it was to be made on PPP model, but interest of investors decreased and arranging funds became a problem.
"We then thought that the state government will make it and tried hard for it, but were unable to get a positive response from the Centre. Now all impediments to it are gone and it will be constructed," he said.
Kumar said when everything including finance from ADB was arranged, the central government said it wanted to build the bridge. "Bihar government was ready to hand it over to them from that point but the Centre said it will start the process afresh," he alleged.
"That way it would have been delayed by four to five years as was the case of Patna-Gaya four-lane National Highway for which the state had secured loan from Japan and the Centre said it would build it after starting the process afresh and the project got delayed by six years," he said.
The Chief Minister said he expected the bridge will be completed as per schedule.
Kumar also laid the foundation stones for construction of 1,063 km roads at a cost of Rs 1,896 crore in different parts of the state and four flyovers at a cost of Rs 288 crore by the state Road Construction Department.
He also laid foundation stones, launched work and inaugurated several projects worth altogether Rs 2,138 crore to construct roads and small bridges in rural areas. These will be completed by the Rural Works Department.
"We had earlier aimed that people from far flung districts could reach the state capital in six hours. This has been achieved due to vast improvement in road connectivity. We now target to bring down the time to five hours. The projects launched today will be helpful in this," he said.
Kumar also launched energy related projects valued at Rs 5,541 crore to improve transmission, distribution, equipment and other facets related to electricity supply.