|Bumpy ride begins from the approach to Jayprakash Narayan Setu, while (above) giant potholes dot Road No. 15 near Al-Kabir Polytechnic. Pictures by Bhola Prasad
A bridge full of ugly warts is not the welcome one of the country’s first planned townships should offer. Jamshedpur, unfortunately, does.
Jayprakash Narayan Setu — better known as the second Mango bridge or the gateway to the steel city — is a tell-tale picture of neglect with craters as long as five metres and ankle-deep potholes dotting its entire 800-metre length.
The Rs 6-crore bridge was built in 1996 by the undivided Bihar government and came under the jurisdiction of the state road construction department after Jharkhand was born in 2000.
Alleged lack of maintenance by the department’s Jamshedpur division has turned the bridge into a commuter’s nightmare, particularly in the rainy season.
Every day, more than 1,50,000 vehicles — private, public and commercial — cross Jayprakash Narayan Setu, which connects the city to the densely populated Mango and NH-33.
Almost all long-distance buses from Sitaramdera terminus to Odisha, Bengal and Bihar as well as Ranchi and other parts of the state also use the bridge. So, it goes without saying what such heavy traffic pressure can do an elevated structure that has not seen maintenance in years.
“Every time it rains, the craters and potholes only increase in size. If the authorities do not take urgent measures now, they will soon have to shut down the bridge. And if they don’t, there will be a disaster some day,” said Mohinder Singh, a Tata Steel employee and resident of Mango.
Jamshedpur West MLA Banna Gupta said he had met executive engineer of the district road construction division Anil Kumar Vijay with repair requests last month. “I had lodged a written complaint with the executive engineer in the last week of July, seeking immediate maintenance of the bridge. If nothing comes of it, I will raise the issue in the Assembly. The session starts from August 31 in Ranchi,” he added.
Executive engineer Vijay admitted the problems the Mango second bridge was grappling with, but said he was in a meeting in Ranchi and would speak on the issue later.
The bridge is not the only woe for the region.
Road No. 15, which links Kolhan’s lone private polytechnic in Kapali (Seraikela-Kharsawan) to Old Purulia Road in Mango, also bares gross negligence on the part of the road construction department.
According to principal of Al-Kabir Polytechnic M. Jameel Quaiser, around 1,500 students from the steel city and Chandil take the road to reach the cradle. “The concrete road has not been repaired in the last 15 years. Yawning craters cover its entire length of 3km. They turn into perilous puddles in monsoon,” he said.
Executive engineer (rural works department) Seraikela-Kharsawan U. Sahay expressed helplessness, citing funds crunch. “The matter was raised during Union tourism minister Subodh Kant Sahay’s visit to Chandil last week. I have also urged deputy commissioner K.N. Jha to accord priority to repair work whenever we receive funds. There is nothing more we can do,” he maintained.
Should the Mango second bridge be shut till repairs?