Mangalore's ropeway bridge project in limbo
When the then deputy, Speaker N Yogish Bhat, initiated work on the 410-metre ropeway bridge between Sulthan Bathery and Thannirbhavi, said to be longest in the country, on January 18, Mangaloreans hoped that a “tourism project” was finally being implemented in the coastal district.
However, in less than nine months, the ray of hope seems to be fading away, thanks to the politics involved in the ambitious project dreamt of by veteran Congress leader Blasius D’Souza way back in 1962.
Yojaka (India) Private Limited, which is implementing the project, is likely to stop the work, as they have not been paid a single rupee till date.
Speaking to Deccan Herald, Yojaka (India) Private Limited Managing Director Jagadish Boloor said they will be forced to stop the work as they have not been paid a single rupee though they have completed works worth Rs 1.22 crore which includes 40 per cent piling work, dredging, filling and construction of working platform.
When contacted, MLA J R Lobo blamed the BJP government for inviting tender and initiating the work on the project without keeping sufficient funds for the project. “Tender can be called for any project only if one-third of funds are available,” he said. Though the hanging bridge project cost had been estimated at Rs 12 crore, the tender was invited even though only Rs 1 crore was set aside in blatant violation, he added.
Flaying the BJP for hurriedly initiating the project without sufficient funds, he termed it an election gimmick. “The setting aside of Rs 1 crore for monorail is also another gimmick without a vision,” he said and flayed the BJP for hoodwinking the citizens of the coastal city. “If the Congress had initiated such projects (without sufficient funds), the BJP men would have shouted from the rooftops,” he said.
Meanwhile, according to informed sources, the tourism department is not keen on the project and a senior official in the department is of the opinion that the bridge work comes under the public works department (PWD) and not under tourism department.
Secondly, the authorities concerned in the department “think” that Rs 12 crore is huge sum. Instead, the amount can be used to develop many “other tourism projects.” When contacted, Project Director & Dakshina Kannada Nirmithi Kendra Head Rajendra Kalbavi said if the work is handed over to PWD, the project cost may go up to Rs 70 crore to Rs 100 crore as the PWD constructs only regular bridges and do not construct “hanging bridges.”
Deputy Commissioner N Prakash too confirmed that, at present, only Rs 1 crore has been set aside for the project. “Though there is no problem in paying Rs 1 crore, the problem will not be solved by paying a sum of Rs 1 crore, as the project cost is Rs 12 crore,” he said and added that efforts are on to get more funds for the project. If the tourism department hands over the project to the PWD, then the latter would have to invite re-tender. If that happens, Boloor said, they will be forced to approach the court as they have been entrusted the work through tender by the tourism department.