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Overbridge crack scare for commuters

- Railways take defensive stance, officials promise to carry out repairs in a week

The railways were pushed on the backfoot after a 3.5-inch crack was noticed on the Chiraiyatand railway overbridge, connecting Kankerbagh on the west with Station Ro-ad and Exhibition Road on the north, on Friday.

The commuters were scared after four bolts came off on a 110-m stretch, resulting in a gap between the overbridge and the Station Road approach. The bridge, under Indian Railway Construction (Ircon) initially, was allegedly not maintained since its handover to the railways in 2008.

Murli Dhar Choubey, who first saw the crack, said: “Around 7.30am, I saw the crack while driving on the bridge. I placed a few bricks to seal the gap. A biker alerted the district magistrate (DM)’s control room. Around 9.30am, police reached the spot.”

When The Telegraph visited the spot, it was found that four broken bolts were lying under the bridge, while traffic flowed over it. Fifty metres of the double-lane Station Road side, where the crack appeared, was barricaded.

The road construction department and Ircon on behalf of the railways constructed the bridge jointly for Rs 74 crore, of which the railways spent Rs 17 crore. It was opened for public use in December, 2007.

Ircon executive director Birendra Pratap Singh reached the spot around 11.30am and saw the portion from which the bolts broke off. Singh said: “The bolts broke because of lack of maintenance. The railways are responsible for the bridge upkeep. Vehicular pressure has not broken the bolts. There is no threat to the bridge and the commuters.” Asked about Ircon’s earlier claim that the bridge would face no trouble for at least 50 years, Singh said: “As I said, the railways are looking after it maintenance. One bolt could possibly have broken, leading the pressure to shift to the three other bolts. Those, in turn, must have broken unable to take the pressure of the cables.” He added that a counterweight has been placed on the bridge so that vehicular movement is not disturbed.

DM Sanjay Kumar Singh and senior superintendent of police Amrit Raj also reached the spot. Senior engineer of Danapur railway division Akhilesh Kumar said: “We have the provision to inspect the bridge once a year. It was last inspected last January. We will restore the crack in a week.”

Principal secretary, road construction, Pratyaya Amrit said repair work would be carried out on the flyover between 10.30pm and 5am for a week.

Road construction minister Nand Kishore Yadav, with Ircon and railway officers on his side, told the media at Soochna Bhavan: “As the state government and the railways built the overbridge jointly, both maintain it separately. From now, I suggest both to hold a meeting twice a year and discuss the present condition of railway overbridges in the state.”