Wednesday, February 21, 2024

‘New bridge in Umiam area not feasible’

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SHILLONG, June 19: The All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) on Sunday warned the state government that the construction of a new bridge in Umiam area is not feasible according to experts.
“Constructing a bridge in that area is not advisable. The technical experts submitted the view that it may disturb the dam. So, the government has to ensure that the project – upstream or near the dam – does not create any technical hazard to the dam,” AITC leader George B Lyngdoh said.
With Umiam bridge crossing its lifespan, the government had directed the Chief Engineer of PWD to inspect the area for the construction of an alternative bridge. But Lyngdoh said working in the vicinity will cause ecological damage. He insisted that a study is conducted as regards the catchment area.
“Constructing a bridge is not an easy process considering the climatic challenge that we face. It is difficult to have any construction for six months due to weather,” he pointed out.
He said back in 2018 when he suggested an alternate route to facilitate the movement of vehicles towards Shillong, the state government had made an assurance in the Assembly that it would spend Rs 50 crore on building a road from Mawlai bypass to Shillong bypass along the hill slopes of Mawshatkhnam and downwards.
Lyngdoh said even after the assurance and subsequent survey, the government did neither sanction the acquisition of land nor make the payment of compensation to the landowners.
“The government expects people to give land free of cost for a project costing Rs 50 crore. The alternate route would have not only saved the dam but also brought better connectivity between the people from Ri-Bhoi and East Khasi Hills,” Lyngdoh said.
“I thought this sanctioning of Rs 50 crore without land acquisition was a very meek effort and a lip service just to show they were trying to do something,” he added.
Pointing out that the restrictions put on trucks to avoid overloading has ensured the vehicles to be re-routed from Dwar Ksuid bridge towards Mawryngkneng and Shillong, he said, “The additional cost on the transportation of goods towards Shillong is putting added burden on the price of all commodities in Shillong.”
He alleged there have been instances of people bribing their way through the Umiam bridge to get across the overloaded trucks.
“Trucks carrying minerals and other by-products are still being allowed to ply at odd hours. We have seen overloaded trucks passing through the bridge from 3am-6am all these years,” the AITC leader said.
He said if the government had been serious, the problem of the Dwar Ksuid bridge could have been solved. Now, they are putting pressure on both the bridges but it will spell disaster for the entire city, he warned.
Lyngdoh also said that the Dwar Ksuid bridge has already developed cracks. He said the problem will start once the Umiam bridge cracks due to recklessness and misuse of government machinery.
He asked the government if it can purchase power in the event of anything happening to the Umiam dam.

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