Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and deputy CM Manish Sisodia inspected the much-delayed Signature Bridge on Tuesday morning and witnessed installation of the final pylon. The CM said the bridge would become operational by October, and hoped to offer it as a Diwali gift to Delhi residents.
One of the most delayed infrastructure projects in Delhi, the asymmetrical cable bridge coming over the Yamuna is expected to reduce travel time between north Delhi and north-east Delhi and Ghaziabad.
Construction work on the bridge had stopped in April due to a fund crunch and resumed on Tuesday. “People of Delhi are eagerly waiting for the Signature Bridge... We are hopeful the bridge will be completed by October. Around Rs 150 crore is further required to complete the project, which will be released this month or early next month and there will be no further delay. Let’s hope people of Delhi get a Diwali gift,” Kejriwal said.
After missing many deadlines, construction finally started in 2010. Delays escalated the cost of the project from Rs 887 crore to Rs1,131 crore in 2013.
The Delhi Tourism and Transportation Corporation (DTTDC) – the agency executing the project – sent a revised estimate of Rs 1,575 crore to the government for approval in 2016 out of which Rs 1,344 crore was released.
The public works department sought an expert opinion from CPWD on its demand for an additional Rs 231 crore. A senior official of DTTDC said the PWD released some amount recently but over Rs 190 was still needed.
“Normal construction has resumed but the complicated cable-related work will begin in a few days as engineers of the Italian company executing the work are yet to return. They will reach here in a day or two and the main work will begin. We are hoping to make the bridge operational by October,” the official said, requesting anonymity.
Sisodia, who holds the tourism portfolio, had last week asked the principal secretary (finance) and principal secretary (PWD) to put the revised estimates of the project before the Expenditure Finance Committee for approval. He told chief secretary Anshu Prakash to place the matter before the Cabinet three days after the EFC’s approval.
The project was scheduled to be completed before the 2010 Commonwealth Games but the deadline was revised to 2013 and was further extended to June 2016 then to July 2017 and again to March 2018. It was rescheduled for June 2018 and now the government hopes to complete it by October 2018. Though Kejriwal announced to open the bridge by October 2018, the outcome budget uploaded on the government’s website on Tuesday projects the deadline as December 2018.