Construction on the flyover began in December 2015, and the previous TDP government had promised to complete it within 12-18 months.

After missing multiple deadlines Vijayawadas Kanaka Durga flyover still incompleteImage: Picxy.com
news Urban Infrastructure Wednesday, January 29, 2020 - 16:24

Residents of Vijayawada who have been facing severe traffic congestion on the arterial roads of the city have been waiting for the Kanaka Durga flyover to partially solve their woes for more than three years now. The flyover, which was sanctioned in 2014 after the TDP government came to power, was first expected to be completed by 2016, a year after the foundation stone was laid. After facing multiple delays and deadline extensions, in November 2019, the Roads and Buildings Department officials told Andhra Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy that the flyover would be completed by the end of January. 

With the deadline fast approaching, the flyover has been delayed yet again by a month. Krishna district Collector Mohammed Imtiaz, who inspected the progress of construction last week, has reportedly said that nearly 85% of the work has been completed so far. With yet another extended deadline, here is a look at the snail-paced progress that the flyover had made over the years. 

Background 

The 2.3 km-long flyover is being built with an estimated cost of Rs 447 crore along National Highway 65, which connects Hyderabad and Vijayawada. It starts at Kummaripalem and ends at the Rajiv Gandhi Municipal Park, passing over Temple Road and Canal Road besides the Prakasam barrage.

From the beginning of the project, the estimated time for its completion has been unclear. In June 2012, former Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu had rallied against the then Congress government of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, demanding the construction of the flyover on behalf of locals. Challenging the government’s claims of impracticality of such a construction, Naidu is reported to have claimed that given the chance, he would complete the flyover ‘in a year’, and ‘without troubling traffic.’ 

After Naidu became the CM of the bifurcated state of Andhra Pradesh in June 2014, the project was officially announced. When the Central government approved the project in April 2015, Vijayawada MP Kesineni Nani had said that once the tendering process was completed, the flyover would be finished in 18 months. 

In November, the same year, it was announced that the construction firm Soma Enterprise Ltd had bagged the contract after quoting an amount of Rs 282 crore for the project. L&T and Navayuga were also reported to have been part of the bidding process. 

Though the TDP government had claimed after coming to power that the flyover would be completed in August 2016 - the first official deadline for the project - the foundation stone itself was laid in December 2015 by Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari. 

The never-ending deadlines 

The project missed the deadline of the 'Krishna Pushkaralu' (a river festival observed once in 12 years) which happened in August 2016. The festival, along with other religious celebrations frequently occurring at the Kanaka Durga Temple, only delayed the construction further.

At first, it was expected to be completed by December 2016, as the government had given a year’s time to the contractor. Naidu then set a new deadline of August 2017, but as of June 2017, only 40% of the works were reported to have been completed. The slow pace of the work was attributed to a shortage of workforce, apart from challenges in the flyover’s design. 

The deadline was then extended to October 2017. But a month before the new deadline, Andhra Pradesh Irrigation Minister Devineni Umamaheswara Rao said that the flyover would take another six months to complete and be opened by March 2018. Chandrababu Naidu also expressed his displeasure over the delay, instructing Soma Enterprises to speed up the work and get the flyover ready by March 2018. 

In February 2018, more than two years since the foundation was laid, the Vijayawada Congress staged a protest against the monumental delay, warning the government of an indefinite protest unless the Kanaka Durga project was completed by the March 2018 deadline. However, the then Krishna District Collector B Lakshmikantham said that both the Kanaka Durga and Benz Circle flyovers would be ready only by June 30, 2018. 

In March 2018, although Soma Enterprises had reportedly scheduled the completion for September 2018, R&B officials said that the project would be done by August 15, 2018. At this point, about 65 per cent of the project was reported to have been completed. Apart from the shortage workforce, reports also suggested reasons like shortage and delay of funds, resulting in a lack of material and machinery which impeded the contractor. 

In April 2018, a new deadline on January 2019 was set. As of July 2018, up to 70% of the work was reported to have been finished. After missing this deadline as well, in March 2019, Vijayawada MP Kesinani Nani was reported to have said that the flyover would be completed in two months’ time, by May 2019. 

In April 2019, the contractor requested an extension upto Independence Day yet again, this time till August 15, 2019, citing a shortage of funds. 

The Kanaka Durga and Benz Circle projects, apart from other urban infrastructure works, were among the concerns of the voters with the elections arriving in April. 

In May 2019, officials said that while 83% of the works were completed, the project was stuck due to a shortage of sand supply. Soon after, the YSRCP government came to power, and altered the sand policy to further induce a shortage of sand across the state for months. 

In August, R&B officials claimed that the project would finally see completion by the end of 2019. However, in a review meeting with the Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy held in November, R&B officials reportedly told the CM that this deadline cannot be met, as works have been delayed due to the high number of devotees visiting the Kanaka Durga temple. The deadline was then extended to January 31. 

But now, Collector Md Imtiaz has said that 85% of the project is finished, asking the contractor to complete work by the end of February

In the meanwhile, the delay in construction has only seen the traffic worsen on various occasions owing to diversions. With heavy vehicular congestion becoming the norm along the Bunder Road and NH 65 roads in the city, residents are impatient for the flyovers to open soon. 

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