Home > industry > No turf war when it comes to bridges

New Delhi: Instead of bickering about cost-sharing with the railways ministry, the roads ministry will invest around 10,000 crore in two years to build bridges over railway tracks and roads that go under them, two roads ministry officials said.

The total expenditure will be for 204 bridges and underpasses that involve railway tracks and 150 bridges that do not.

“Railway crossings and bridges will be a priority area for the road transport and highways ministry," one of the officials said. “The ministry has launched a programme for the same." The move is in line with the government’s objective of improving coordination between ministries and ending the culture of them working in silos. The idea is to improve travellers’ safety and connect so-called missing links in the national highway network, the second official said. Both spoke on condition of anonymity. The overbridges and underpasses are the weak links in road safety and also the missing links, the second official said. “Often there are roads but no bridges, affecting seamless connectivity."

The roads ministry wants to complete building at least 100 railway bridges and 50 road bridges in the year to next March. “The railways ministry is tight on funds, which is why the road transport and highways ministry is shouldering the entire cost," the second official said. “The railways could utilize their funds for making similar bridges on state highways if we take care of national highways."

The two ministries signed a pact in November to grant clearances for these bridges along national highways within two months. The railways set up a website for online submission of applications and drawings related to such bridges. “This has cut down the time taken for getting railway clearances from an average of two years to two months now," said the first official. “It was also an issue stalling some road projects."

An expert lauded the programme. “It is a good initiative. Building bridges will prevent accidents and enable better connectivity," said Abhaya Agarwal, a partner at EY Llp who oversees the consultancy’s infrastructure practice. “Streamlining processes and setting up systems are key and must be done across all ministries. They prevent cost overruns and improve the government’s functioning."

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