New Delhi: Bihar government has demanded that the Centre should stop charging toll on Mahatma Gandhi Setu in Patna as the long traffic queues were further damaging the 30-year-old structure.

The request was made by the state in a meeting between Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, C P Joshi here on Tuesday.

The highlight of the meeting was that the Centre gave a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to the state for setting up another alternate bridge alongside the dilapidated Gandhi Setu.

Secretary of the Road Construction Department (RCD), Bihar, Pratyaya Amrit told PTI that the state government has requested the Centre to make traffic movement on the bridge toll-free at least for three-four years as the dead load on the already damaged 5.5-km long bridge is increasing due to long queues of vehicles waiting to pay toll.

Joshi is learnt to have assured Bihar government to consider the matter.

The matter came up during discussion between Kumar and Joshi on Tuesday. The state government had earlier also written letters on many occasions to the Centre in this regard.
It is learnt that the Bihar government has paid the Centre a sum of Rs 145 crore in form of toll tax from the bridge since it was constructed 30 years back. Currently, the annual toll earning from the bridge is Rs 9 crore.

During the meeting the Bihar government also showed a four-minute video on the pitiable condition of the bridge.

The Centre on Tuesday also gave its in-principle agreement to the construction of a new bridge to connect North Bihar with Patna and its southern parts.

The alternate bridge to be made through Public Private Partnership (PPP) model will cost around Rs 2,000 crore. The Central government has also agreed to maintain the old bridge till the new bridge comes up.


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