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Administrative tangles keep bridge widening incomplete

Work taken up in '07 only half done as civic body remains stuck in talks with other depts and web of utility cables passing by bridge

A bridge on Nehru Road that was taken up for widening with central funding in 2007 remains incomplete even after all these years.



On hold: The Canal Bridge which is parallel to the Shankarshet Road.
The retaining wall can still be seen with cables passing from its sides,
which authorities say will soon be replaced. The work on the bridge
required the Irrigation Department's green signal. pics/Krunal Gosavi




The Canal Bridge, as it is called, can help thousands of motorists ease through the traffic towards Market Yard and Satara Road, but work on it was left halfway because of administrative tangles and a web of underground utility cables that have to be dealt with first.

The hurdles include issues with the contractor, coordination with other agencies and some technical matters.
The Bhoomi Pujan for the construction was done at the hands of senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde. The Rs 1 crore widening work on the bridge was taken up by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

Today, the authorities still seem to be grappling with the issue of how best to deal with the electrical cables, water pipelines and other technical challenges that are preventing the widening of the bridge.

According to officials involved in the project, the first challenge was to get a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Irrigation Department since a canal passes under it.

"We had to build special pillars on the sides, after which the widening took place without disturbing the flow of the water. The technical consultations with the department took much time and we also had to wait for the 'flow time', that is the release and closure of water in the canal," said an official, requesting anonymity.

Cables of companies like Reliance, Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) also pass through the original part of the bridge. Today, the part of the bridge that underwent widening remains incompletely done and the support wall prior to the work still stands.
One of the problems that threw work out of gear was the first contractor backing out, because of hurdles faced with the Irrigation Department (ID).

The project then required re-tendering, and work resumed by mid-2008. Now, officials assure that the project will be completed in a month as the shifting work will commence soon.  Local BJP corporator Kavita Vairage said they were working at overcoming the hindrances.

"A replacement for a 27-inch-long water pipeline is currently being fabricated by a contractor from Thane city and will be immediately installed," she said. "We have been following up with authorities and the hurdles are gradually being overcome."

In what could have delayed the project further, the PMC was planning to invite a Rs 17 lakh tender to shift the cables, overlooking an in-house fast-track provision which allowed for such works to be completed without tendering.

Municipal Commissioner Mahesh Pathak passed an order in mid-July, appointing a nodal officer for coordinating with MSEDCL and other bodies whose cables pass through PMC land. "We have now asked MSEDCL to shift its cables soon and the work will not require re-tendering," said SL Ghume, executive engineer, Roads Department.

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