Bhubaneswar: The proposed Smart Janpath project in the Capital city has missed several deadlines since its inception in 2017, causing much inconvenience to the denizens.
Initiated as one of the projects under Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited (BSCL), the idea was to give a grandiose makeover to the 5.8-km stretch between Sishu Bhawan Square and Raj Mahal Square- also known as Janpath here.
The ambitious project envisages construction of public plazas (hangout zones), an 11-km long footpath and cycle track, smart vending zones, sensor-based on-street parking facility, underground cabling and active surveillance systems.
However, four years down the lane the project has been hanging fire even though construction activities continue every day. Moreover, the delay has caused cost overrun. Sources said that the BSCL has already spent Rs 80.67 crore, which is more than the estimated cost of Rs 79.56 crore.
“This is the consequence of poor planning and coordination among the departments. While the plan was initiated with much zest much thought hasn’t gone into management of traffic, congestions and other issues. Also, official rigmarole and slow inter-department communication has delayed the implementation of the project,” said Saroj Chandra Panigrahi, a city-based urban planner.
Speaking to Orissa POST, contractors and agencies involved in the construction activities blamed unexpected events for the delays. “We have to suspend work many times either due to cyclones, rains or official events. Most of the raw materials fail to reach the sites on time owing to Covid-induced lockdowns and shutdowns, and we have no option than to wait,” said a contractor.
However, the explanation doesn’t go well with the citizens and traders in the vicinity of the work sites.
The prolonged construction activities have also affected the businesses of the local traders.
“Sometimes it is road widening, sometimes it’s underground cabling and sometimes some other work. How long are we supposed to bear the losses? While lockdowns have already impacted our businesses and livelihood, customers are now turning away from our shops when they fail to find a parking lot nearby owing to the construction activities,” rued Sarbajit Chaddha, a store owner at Janpath.
As per a survey conducted by German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ), Rajmahal and Master Canteen on Janpath are the two busiest stretches of the Capital city next to Kalpana Square.
About 5,970 vehicles cross Master Canteen Square and 10,525 vehicles cross Rajmahal Square every hour during peak hours. Besides, vehicular movement on this stretch is estimated to grow at an annual rate of 5 to 7 per cent.
Reacting to the issue, BSCL general manager (Engineering), Saroj Ranjan Dash, said, “Much of the delay had been due to Covid-19, Cyclone Fani and Hockey World Cup in 2018. However, we are very much into the completion of the project and the project will be completed very soon.”
Notably, the original deadline for the project was by end of 2019. However, as the Capital city hosted Hockey World Cup in 2018 and was hit by Cyclone Fani in 2019, the deadline was extended.
In its 14th annual meeting of the Board of Directors of the BSCL in November 2019 it was decided that the project will be completed within a year.
The works were again halted due to lockdowns and shutdowns. The then CEO of BSCL, Prem Chandra Chaudhary, had said, “The deadline has been extended to six more months. We are looking to finish the project between May and June 2021.”