Ranaghat, July 13: Construction of a bridge over the river Churni, as a part of NH12’S widening project that nearly blocked the river course in Ranaghat, has prompted nature care activists to lodge a complaint with the National Highway Authority of India and the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways.
The construction agency entrusted with the four-laning work of NH12 has been accused of filling up the river bed with earth and rubbish blocking the natural flow so that cranes can be made accessible on the riverbed to launch the concrete girders and rest them on the piers of the bridge across the river.
The earth filling has been done in such a way that at present only about 10 meters of the narrow space has been left open, out of 50 meters width for the flow making the river in a dying condition, alleged the nature lovers.
Both the NHAI authorities and the executing agency have assured to restore the river course to its normal position once the work is done. But, the members of the Churni-Mathabhanga Nadi Kalyan Parishad (CMNKP ) are unconvinced as they apprehend that the filled-up earth cannot be removed totally, which would die down the river permanently.
Accusing NHAI and the construction agency of executing the work in an ‘unscientific manner’ Vice President of the CMNKP Bibartan Bhattacharyya said, “It is unbelievable that a central government organization has been indulging to block the river course adopting a wrong technique. It is practically impossible to restore the river course removing the filled up earth and rubbishes entirely as it would be washed away raising the riverbed critically, which is already in a dying state”.
“In recent past, we have seen how such earth filling of the riverbed for construction of two railway bridges have ruined the Churni and Ichhamati river in other places the Nadia”, he added further.
Churni river is a distributary of Mathabhanga (a distributor of Padma), which has entered India from Bangladesh in Pabakhali (Majhdia) of Nadia. Mathabhanga was eventually divided into Churni and Ichamati. But in absence of any reform for decades and due to several encroachments Churni river at present is in a dying state with little flow of water. The members of Churni-Mathabhanga Nadi Kalyan Parishad think that blocking the river course further for the bridge work by NHAI would ruin its course permanently.
The NHAI took up the much-awaited four-laning works between Krishnagar and Baro-Jagulia (64 km) stretch in October 2019. It entrusted Gurugram-based KCC Buildcon Private Limited to execute this Rs.1113-Crores project within 30 months includes the bridge over the Churni apart from two flyovers, 4 railways over bridges, and 7 footbridges.
The bridge in contention being constructed as a new one along the old one is Girder Bridge which uses a bridge as the means of supporting its deck on the piers. A pier is an upright support for the girders.
Refuting the allegation of blocking the river course Raju Kumar, Project Director of NHAI’s Krishnanagar Project Implementation Unit said the ‘earth filling’ work on the river bed is being done as a “temporary measure” to make a “base” for the movement of machinery like cranes, etc.
Speaking to The NfN Raju Kumar said, “We need a base to launch the girders which are not feasible from over the existing river course. The existing riverbed is not strong enough to take the load. Moreover, the river course in the stretch is very narrow, and launching the girders would be difficult. So we have taken up earth filling to make a base…”
“It is absolutely being done in a temporary nature and will be removed once the girders are launched”, the Project Director reiterated claiming that the river course would be brought back to its normal condition within a month.
However, organizations like Churni-Mathabhanga Nadi Kalyan Parishad and the Mathabhanga-Churni River Rescue Committee, who have been demanding immediate reform of the Churni are unconvinced. “The NHAI should have insisted the executive agency use an alternative way to launch the girder….”, a member of CMNKP said.
Reacting to this demand NHAI Project Director Raju Kumar said, “If the Churni had a deep water level, we could have opted for an alternative method to launch the girder…”.
A site engineer of KCC Buildcon Private Limited who refused to be identified said, “We have been executing the work as per the work schedule provided by the NHAI…We have no independent role here”.