Patna: The Nitish Kumar government in Bihar has been left red-faced after a bridge, part of a Rs 264-crore infrastructure project inaugurated just last month, was washed away by a swollen Gandak river at Gopalganj district Wednesday.
The small bridge, along with an approach road and a longer bridge, connected Gopalgang to Chhapra and other districts. The government had spent Rs 264 crore on the entire 12-km long stretch.
Work on it began in 2012 and the project was inaugurated by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, through video conferencing, on 16 June.
Tejashwi slams Nitish
The chief minister had inaugurated the bridge in view of the coming assembly polls. The demand for a bridge over Gandak river to Kesaria town in East Champaran district was a popular one.
Its collapse, however, has become an embarrassment for the Nitish government with the opposition trying to pin it as another corruption case unde the present regime.
“A bridge constructed in eight years collapsed in 29 days of its inauguration,” said Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Yadav. “The Bhism Pitamah of organised corruption Nitish Kumar will not say a word on this nor will he sack the road construction minister who started his career on a cycle and now travels in a land rover.
He also tweeted slamming the government.
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8 वर्ष में 263.47 करोड़ की लागत से निर्मित गोपालगंज के सत्तर घाट पुल का 16 जून को नीतीश जी ने उद्घाटन किया था आज 29 दिन बाद यह पुल ध्वस्त हो गया।
ख़बरदार!अगर किसी ने इसे नीतीश जी का भ्रष्टाचार कहा तो?263 करोड़ तो सुशासनी मुँह दिखाई है।इतने की तो इनके चूहे शराब पी जाते है pic.twitter.com/cnlqx96VVQ
— Tejashwi Yadav (@yadavtejashwi) July 15, 2020
Road Construction Minister Nand Kishore Yadav was livid at Tejashwi’s remark. “It was a small bridge on the approach road that collapsed. The main bridge is intact,” Yadav told ThePrint.
“The collapse took place due to erosion. It could have happened even a day after the CM inaugurated it. Bihar’s infrastructure includes roads and bridges that get damaged every year during floods.”
He said that a team of engineers have been sent to access the damage.
The minister’s remark blaming a ‘natural calamity’, however, is not cutting ice. “There needs to be a high-level probe to find if the collapse has taken place due to water pressure of the Gandak river or poor quality of work,” said former JD(U) MLA of Baikunthpur (Gopalganj) district, Manjit Singh.
A lapse, needs probe: Experts
Engineers privately point out that though the minister is right about floods damaging roads and bridges, most of them are unusually the old ones. “The bridge that collapsed was unable to face the very first fury of floods,” said an engineer. “Either there has been a lapse of not taking into account the levels that the Gandak river could rise or the quality of the work was poor.”
Dinesh Mishra, an expert who has written 15 books on floods in Bihar, said losses due to floods are huge in Bihar. “Such things keep happening across the globe. In Australia a bridge collapsed seven times before the eighth design held on,” he told ThePrint. “But it is essential to hold a probe and find out if the damage took place due to poor design, poor quality or flood water pressure.”
The road construction department has now issued a statement dubbing media reports on the collapse of the bridge as misleading. “The collapse has taken place on the approach road located two kms away from the actual bridge,” it said. “The small bridge that collapsed is based on an embankment of the Gandak river.”
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