NHAI to construct bridge to Sagar Island
KOLKATA: A Detailed Project Report (DPR) is being prepared for a road-cum-rail bridge across the Muriganga River between Kakdwip in South 24-Parganas and Kochuberia on Sagar Island.
The bridge, a pre-requisite for any port facility on the island, will be built by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) at a cost of nearly Rs 2,800 crore. The bridge, when completed, will lead to development – economic and otherwise – for residents of Sagar island – the largest island in the Gangetic delta.
“It is a good sign that the Centre has given NHAI the go ahead to construct the bridge to Sagar Island from the mainland. This will be a toll bridge. The DPR is now being prepared and the tendering process will start soon after that,” said M T Krishna Babu, chairman, Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT).
Sagar Island is located nearly 150 km downstream of Kolkata. Now, people planning to visit to the island have to travel nearly 90 km by road to Harwood Point (Lot 8 Jetty) in Kakdwip and cross the Muriganga by ferry. Vehicles are taken across in barges but the movement of vessels is governed by tidal movement.
Sagar has a population of nearly 160,000. KoPT has also planned to set up a port facility in Sagar with the the aid of West Bengal government. As the island has a draught of nearly 9 metres, ships with larger parcel loads (10,000 tonnes more than Haldia) would be able to berth there.
“We have been asked to make certain changes in our revenue model. KoPT had wanted a revenue share of 20% but we have been asked to bring this down. We shall give a new proposal soon,” Babu said.
The Government of India has realised the strategic importance of Sagar and is keen to develop a port facility there even if it is not economically viable.
The island is extremely crucial for the Navy as its ships can’t berth at any location south of Paradip. An operating base for the Navy is necessary for better surveillance of the Bay of Bengal region.A source within the Navy said that it also has plans to create a missile battery at Sagar. However, a forward base or missile battery will only be possible if a bridge is constructed.