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'Centre's apathetic attitude led to delay in completing Majerhat Bridge'

Kolkata: Making a scathing attack on BJP for staging "drama" in the name of agitation demanding fast opening of Majerhat Bridge just to gain political mileage, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held the Centre responsible for the delay by at least nine months as the railways did not give necessary clearances to undertake the work on time.

The city witnessed hooliganism of "outsiders" allegedly "hired" by BJP during the protest rally led by the party's national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya. Tension broke out as the BJP workers began pelting stones at the police when they were stopped at Taratala crossing. Police resorted to lathicharge to disperse the mob as the latter broke the security barricades to move ahead towards the construction site of Majerhat Bridge. The situation was brought under control with deployment of a large contingent of police led by senior officers. Around 80 people were arrested in this connection.

"No one understands the pain of the people residing in south Kolkata mainly Behala better than us and that is the reason behind leaving no stone unturned in ensuring fast completion of the construction of the new Majerhat Bridge. But it is the Centre for whom the project got delayed by around nine months. The railway is yet to give the final clearance and it would take another seven to eight days for the same to finalise the date for its inauguration," Banerjee said recollecting that she was in Darjeeling when the bridge had collapsed in September 2018 and she had rushed back to Kolkata to supervise the rescue operation.

"Where was BJP when railway was delaying in giving clearances?" Banerjee raised the question. She further said that they are creating ruckus just to show off. "They have asked the police to arrest them just for photographs to prove that they have agitated," she said. Trinamool Congress led by the party's secretary general Partha Chatterjee held a rally at the same spot in the evening protesting against BJP's hooliganism. The state PWD minister Aroop Biswas said that there was nine months delay just because of lackadaisical attitude of the railways to give different clearances. Again no work was being carried out for three months due to Covid. The railway had taken 142 days to dismantle 70 metre stretch of the previous structure that delayed in initiating the construction.

At the same time, the state government has paid Rs 33.29 crore for different purposes related to the construction of the bridge. "We have paid Rs 6.43 crore as rent for railway land for 10 years just for taking up the project of constructing of the new bridge replacing the collapsed one. Rs 10.1 crore for dismantling the structure, Rs 7.30 crore as supervision charge on the portion under railway's jurisdiction, Rs 70 lakh for checking 20 bearings and Rs 7.14 crore as charges when the temporary bailey bridge was constructed," Biswas said adding that the final clearances should have been given immediately in such circumstances. He said that outsiders were being brought to create unnecessary tension at Taratala.

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