As a Bihari, Mahatma Gandhi Setu possesses great significance in our lives. Whether by a specific purpose or just for roaming and travelling around, all of us took the bridge to cross the holy river Ganga. We are also aware of the load of vehicles that Mahatma Gandhi Setu bears everyday.
Thousands of vehicles crosses the bridge on daily basis. The heavy load that the setu is bearing since 1982 after being inaugurated by Indira Gandhi, then prime minister of India, has made its condition poor and weak. Also, this bridge wasn’t built for the traffic that passes by everyday now. Being old, worn out and having the lower stress bearing capacity, the condition of the Mahatma Gandhi Setu is undoubtedly getting worse. There have been few accidents too. Low maintenance during its initial years is also a major reason behind its dilapidated condition right now.
The government is continuously trying to make the necessary amends to improve the situation of Mahatma Gandhi Setu but still there is only a little advancement in this direction. But recently, the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs has approved a plan which proposes an alternate four-lane over bridge which is to be built parallel to the Mahatma Gandhi bridge. This will help in reducing the load of the bridge and will provide the government officials ample time to get it repaired.
The Ganges passes through Bihar, dividing the state into two, creates a major need of proper linkage between the two parts. Therefore in order to make the crossing convenient, foundation of Mahatma Gandhi Setu was laid in the year 1972. After a haywire of around 10 years, the bridge was finally opened for people in 1982. It has a total stretch of 5,750 meters, which is the second largest in India. The bridge also held the record of being the longest bridge, until Bhupen Hazarika Setu, having the length of 9,150 meters, was built over Lohit river in Assam and opened in 2017.
Before Mahatma Gandhi Setu, only Rajendra Setu was the link between the two parts of Bihar, connecting Mokama and Barauni. Therefore, Mahatma Gandhi Setu was built to connect state capital to the northern Bihar and Nepal. It provides better connectivity to both north and south parts of Bihar from other states like Jharkhand, West Bengal and UP as well. Later on, because of the location of the bridge, increased trade relations and constant development of Bihar, it started getting overloaded day by day. As a point of note, this bridge was built many years ago, with inferior quality of materials.
Now, the pride of Bihar, Mahatma Gandhi Setu requires high maintenance to avoid any collapse. To avoid any further mishap, government has planned this new bridge parallel to it. Not just the bridge, according to some sources, the CCEA has also approved a major project of 14,500 km via the capital city Patna, Vaishali and Saran districts of Bihar, consisting the equally stretched four-lane bridge, one rail over bridge, one viaduct, one flyover of 110m, four minor bridges, five bus shelters and thirteen road junctions. The whole project has a net worth of 2926.42 crores. The construction work of this mega project is most likely to get over in around three and a half years, by January 2023.
Thankfully, we’ll soon have an alternative for travelling from North to South of Bihar, if Mahatma Gandhi Setu undergoes any maintenance work, without spending extra time in the journey. The new bridge will also share the traffic, ultimately leading to minimum damage to the old one, and less accidents and traffic jams. Because of such infrastructure developments finally occurring in the city, Patna is the 21st among the fastest growing cities in the world and stands 5th in India and is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 3.72%. Similarly, as the state is developing, Bihar will need more such bridges and pathways for the convenient transportation and better connectivity.
Quote of the day:“Those who say it can not be done, should not interrupt those doing it.” ― A Chinese proverb