Work on world’s tallest railway bridge in Reasi comes to a grinding halt

Work abandoned on world’s tallest railway bridge in Reasi. -Excelsior/Karandeep
Work abandoned on world’s tallest railway bridge in Reasi. -Excelsior/Karandeep

Payment dispute between KRCL, AFCONS creates roadblock

Govind Sharma

JAMMU, Oct 30: The work on world’s tallest railway bridge coming up between Kauri and Bakkal in Reasi district over Chenab River has come to a grinding halt due to some dispute between Konkan Railways Corporation Limited and executing agency AFCONS Infrastructure Limited.
This bridge is part of ambitious Katra-Banihal rail section of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Project of Northern Railway. The work on the bridge is being executed by Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) through AFCONS and it is slated to be completed in 2019.
However, sources in the Konkan Railway said that it will be difficult to complete the bridge by 2019 as work has been abandoned by the construction agency about one week back, adding “there is a tussle between AFCONS and KRCL over payment issue”.
They further said that as per the contract between AFCONS and KRCL, about 24000-25000 tonnes of steel had to be used in the construction of the bridge but after awarding the contract to AFCONS, KRCL changed the design as per which about 28000-29000 tonnes of steel is being used now for the construction of bridge.
Sources said the executing agency is asking KRCL to pay the cost of extra steel that has to be used for the construction of the bridge but the latter is refusing, stating that AFCONS will have to bear the cost as it is in contract clause. “Over this issue, AFCONS stopped work on October 20”, they said.
“In past one week, the higher officials of KRCL and AFCONS met many times to break the impasse but nothing positive came out so far and if this issue is not settled soon, it will be difficult for the AFCONS to meet the deadline for the completion of the project”, sources added.
Excelsior contacted many officials of KRCL but everybody preferred to remain mum on the issue. However, Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Reasi, Rajinder Sharma when contacted, confirmed that over some payment issue the work on the bridge has been temporarily stopped by the AFCONS.
The ADC said he called officials of KRCL and AFCONS at his office today and listened to both the agencies. “The issue has almost been solved”, Sharma said and hoped that within 2-3 days, the work on the bridge will be started again. However, sources said that both the sides are adamant on their respective stand.
On a question, the ADC said that over 75 % work of the bridge has been completed. Even work on main arch of the bridge has also been completed up to 25 % and there is nothing to worry, he added.
Pertinent to mention here that once completed it will be the tallest bridge in the world. The total height of the bridge will be 359 metres. It will be 35 metres taller than the Eiffel Tower in Paris and about 5 times higher than Qutub Minar in Delhi.
In order to enhance safety and security, the bridge will be made of 63mm thick special blast-proof steel as the Jammu and Kashmir is prone to frequent terror attacks. The concrete pillars of the bridge have been designed to withstand explosions and painted with a special corrosion- resistant paint, which lasts for 15 years. It is designed in a way that it can withstand wind speed of up to 260 km per hour.