New Delhi: The union government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed a $500 million loan agreement on Tuesday to build a 9.8-km river bridge, the country’s longest, across the river Ganga which would provide better connectivity between North and South Bihar and also Patna and its surrounding areas.
The new Ganga bridge would serve as an alternative to the existing one and be linked to the National Highway network. The project will include building of embankments, viaducts and toll facilities.
The bridge will be constructed using the latest engineering techniques, making it the first of its kind in India with its height and length customized to deal with the climate- related issues such as rise in water levels while ensuring minimum impact on the river.
“The new Ganga bridge will significantly reduce travel time to Patna from the surrounding regions thereby making it easier for the people to access state’s administrative and social service and is expected to benefit over 9 million people”, said Leonardus Boenawan Sondjaja, deputy country director of ADB’s India Resident Mission, during the signing of the contract.
At present, despite the rise in traffic volumes, there are only four operational bridges along the 200 km stretch of the Ganga.
Raj Kumar, joint secretary (multilateral institutions), department of economic affairs, ministry of finance, said the bridge would benefit the inhabitants of Raghopur Diara river island as they would gain year-round road access thereby forgoing the usual practice of relying on boats and a seasonal pontoon bridge as their only links to Patna.
In addition to the loan given by ADB and $900,000 in technical assistance, the state government of Bihar will provide $215 million more for the project which is expected to be completed by the end of December 2020, according to a finance ministry statement.