Fate of 'longest hanging bridge of India' hangs in balance

Fate of 'longest hanging bridge of India' hangs in balance

When the then Deputy Speaker N Yogish Bhat initiated the work on the 410 metre rope-way bridge between Sulthan Battery and Thannirbhavi, said to be the lengthiest in the country, on January 18, 2013, Mangaloreans had a ray of hope that finally a “tourism project” is being implmented in the coastal district.

However, less than nine months, the ray of hope seems to be coming to an end, thanks to the “politics” involved in the ambitious project dreamt by veteran Congress leader Blasius D’Souza way back in 1962!

The Yojaka (India) Private Limited, which is implementing the project, is likely to stop the work on the dream project, as they have not been paid a single paisa till date, though they have done works worth Rs 1.22 crore till date.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Yojaka (India) Private Limited Managing Director Jagadish Boloor said that they will be forced to stop the work as they have not been paid a single paisa till date though they have done 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 there one-third of funds are available,” he said and added that 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 for the project, which is a blatant violation.

Flaying the BJP for hurridly initiating the project without sufficient funds, he termed it as 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 coastal city.“If the Congress had initiated such projects (without sufficient funds), the BJP men would have shouted from the roof top,” he said.

Tourism dept to PWD?

Meanwhile, according to informed sources, the Tourism Department is not keen on the project and a senior official in the department had reportedly is of the opinion that the bridge work comes under the 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 touism projects.”

When contacted, Project Director and Dakshina Kannada Nirmithi Kendra Head Rajendra Kalbavi said that if the work is handed over to the PWD, then the project cost may go up to Rs 70 crore to Rs 100 crore as the PWD constructs only regular bridges and they do not construct “hanging bridges.”

Deputy Commissioner N Prakash too confirmed that, at present, only a sum of 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.

Who will bell cat?

Interestingly, if the Tourism Department hands over the project to Public Works Department (PWD), then the PWD would have to invite re-tender. If that happens, then Boloor said that they will be forced to approach the court as they have been entrusted the work through tender by the Tourism Department.

Going by the developments on the project, the 50-year-old dream project may not be a reality unless steps are taken at the earliest in the best interest of the Port City. But who will bell the cat, is a million dollar question.

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