IMPHAL, November 18: Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh today inaugurated the much awaited Sanjenthong during a solemn function.
Speaking of the new bridge, the Chief Minister said it does not have a foot support inside the river and as such it will not disturb the water flow like other bridges.
Lauding the engineers involved, the Chief Minister said he consider the bridge to be more economically viable with a modern touch.
He continued as it is election time, the government had to take permission of the Election Commission of India for the bridge inaugural.
At the initial stage of its construction, the government had targetted an early completion before the Sangai festival, although in general construction of such bridge takes at least two years.
The construction of the bridge was started on June 7, 2014 by M/s Simplex Project Ltd Kolkata with a stipulated June 6, 2015 completion.
Due to lack of resources and financial constraint, so much time has been wasted although the proposal to construct a new Sanjenthong was made way back in 2010-11, the Chief Minister said.
On the old bridge, he said during dismantling of the bridge, its date of construction was found inscribed on the foot of bridge and.
The bridge, he said was found to be around 50 years old.
He further expressed that the two lane bridge had become old, congested and had even started to shake whenever heavy vehicles were plying on it.
All these made it very important to upgrade the bridge, the Chief Minister said.
Considering the requirement of a new bridge which is four lane in place of the old two-lane bridge, the Government of Manipur sent a proposal to the ministry of DoNER in the year 2013-14 to consider construction of the bridge under NLCPR, following which the Ministry of DoNER earmarked Rs 10 lakh under the NLCPR, he said.
However recognising the importance of constructing a bridge having high aesthetic value, in view of the location of the bridge site, no DPR was submitted to MDoNER, as the earmarked amount was insufficient to construct the desired bridge, the Chief Minister informed.
Again the Government of Manipur sent a proposal to MDoNER in the year 2014-15 to earmark a sum of Rs 37 Crore for the bridge as priority number one among the proposals from the State government, he said.
While awaiting the approval of the DoNER, the State Government discuss in length the urgent requirement of the bridge and the time which DoNER usually takes while sanctioning a bridge project, the State Government felt it more prudent to take up the bridge from the State budget therefore accorded an administrative approval for Rs 31.313 crore on March 3, 2014.
Although we faced several objections including demands for a diversion bridge, with a strong determination we started the work, he said.
We tried to construct a suspension bridge near the DC Office at Babupara but faced much opposition including sit-ins from the people of Mahabali area and the idea had to be dropped, the Chief Minister continued.
Observing that there is a bridge after about every half a kilometre on both sides of the Sanjenthong, he said people were still dissatisfied as we are all used to easy accessibility.
A recent economic survey published in the local dailies had even claimed that the people had to waste around Rs 35 crores as due to the construction of the bridge, people had to take a longer route which is just about half a kilometre from Sanjenthong, he observed in a mocking tone.
The Chief Minister continued in the same tone “It is indeed a good assessment and I take the report to be good advice, as without it the people would have wasted lots of money.”
On a more serious tone, the Chief Minister asked those people involved in the survey to conduct a survey of the losses incurred during the indefinite economic blockades and bandhs which at times go on for two-three months.
This would be better for the public, he said receiving applause from the gathering.
“For the earlier survey, I would like to give away atleast a “shawl” as a reward to those involved,” he continued.
“We have always tried to complete any work at the earliest however there are “unseen” or unpredictable problems like the rain that hamper work progress.”
This time also we wanted to do a renovation of the Kangla outer moat properly thinking that it needs renovation. We approach the Tourism Ministry for a project as soon as they sanction the fund we started the work but unluckily rain started as unexpected and delayed the work progress.
Thinking it can be completed well before Sangai festival the work started however half a month time was wasted due to rain or else it would been completed well before Sangai festival.
Dy CM Gaikhangam, Works Minister and other Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries, MLAs and other government officials.