M A I N   N E W S

Morinda bypass remains unusable,
as overbridge is still not complete
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 12
Traffic jams at the Morinda level crossing remain a nightmarish experience for thousands of motorists moving on the Chandigarh-Ludhiana highway. “Nowadays it takes two hours to reach Ludhiana from Chandigarh. Out of this, at least 30 minutes are wasted at the level crossing which remains closed for over six hours in a day “, said Ms Payal Gupta, a business woman.

It seems that it will take some more time before the woes of the road users are addressed. Reason, the vital road project of the Morinda bypass has been hanging fire as the railway overbridge on the Chandigarh-Morinda and Una-Sirhind railway line have not been opened to traffic.

“Without the completion of the vital bridge, the bypass which has already been constructed is useless”, said an officer of the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB).

The 6.75-km-long stretch of the four-lane bypass, constructed at a cost of about Rs 18 crore, has been lying unused for the last one year. On a visit to the spot, this correspondent found that no work has been going on at the bridge, though its construction is in the final stages.

When contacted, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, MLA from Morinda, expressed concern over the delay in completion of the project. “I have already taken up the issue with the authorities concerned and they have assured me that it would be completed soon”.

Under the original plan, the bridge was to be completed by January 2005. As the construction company failed to meet the deadline, the PIDB issued notice to the contractor and imposed a penalty to the tune of Rs 70 lakh.

The Chief Engineer, PIDB, Mr Har Ashok Sharma, said the overbridge would be opened to traffic by April 2006. He clarified that the litigation by the construction company was regarding the Phagwara bypass and it had no link with the Morinda bypass. The same company has undertaken the two projects. The project manager of the company was not available for comments

Sources said initially there was some confusion over the alignment of the bypass but it was later sorted out.

Meanwhile, the purpose of making the Morinda bypass is defeated as there is another level crossing on the new bypass. Officers of the PIDB said another overbridge was needed to make the bypass obstruction-free. But railway officials said since the Chandigarh-Morinda rail line would witness less rail traffic, there was no urgent need to construct such an overbridge. Once the railway line is completed up to Ludhiana, the second overbridge would be constructed on a cost-sharing basis by the railways and PIDB, claimed the official.

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