Durgapur, March 19: A railway overbridge on the Calcutta-Delhi NH2 in Burdwan’s Panagarh has developed multiple cracks and is in need of immediate repairs, railway engineers have said in a report.
The revelation comes less than a month of the collapse of a portion of the VIP Road flyover within two years of its inauguration. Faulty design and construction are suspected to have caused the fall.
According to sources, an inspection carried out in Panagarh last month by a team of civil and mechanical engineers from the divisional railway authority in Asansol suggested that one of the overbridge’s 10 bearings, which support the weight of the structure, needed to be “replaced immediately”.
The bearing has become “non-functional”, a railway engineer said.
The report has been submitted to senior divisional engineer (bridge and sliding) Omprakash Kumar in Asansol.
“We have to immediately replace one of the bearings of the bridge and repair the girders (beams). The railways have sanctioned Rs 1 crore and we will float tenders soon,” Kumar said.
He said over a lakh vehicles used the overbridge every day.
When this correspondent visited the bridge today, he found many bolts in the joints missing.
The bridge was riddled with cracks and potholes. Highway officials said the crevices were caused because of rain and high vehicular movement.
The bridge was built in 2000 by the railways to connect two ends of NH2 in Panagarh. The tracks beneath connect Calcutta with Delhi and trains such as the Rajdhani and the Kalka Mail use the stretch.
A railway engineer said the overbridge had elastomeric bearings — rubberised plates fitted between girders and pillars. If they become weak, he said, the weight is transferred to the pillars, which could lead to a collapse. The overbridge has four pillars.
Although Kumar said overbridges needed repairs every 15 years, a senior railway engineer in Asansol said the bearings had to be repaired within eight years of the bridge’s inauguration.
“At least a lakh light, medium and heavy vehicles use the bridge daily. The bridge was supposed to be repaired by 2008. But it was not done. The average longevity of the 10 bearings came down to eight years from 15 because of so many heavy vehicles plying on it,” the engineer said.
A professor of civil engineering at the National Institute of Technology in Durgapur said: “I will not comment on the condition of the bridge without inspecting it. However, if a bearing has become weak, the load will create pressure on the pillars. This could lead to a collapse.”
Railway officials in Asansol said the repairs would take around four months, during which the bridge would have to be closed.
The 3.2km single-lane highway stretch in Panagarh witnesses regular traffic snarls, especially in the evenings. A project to build a 12km bypass has been in the pipeline for years because of an impasse over compensation.
Highway officials said if the overbridge was closed, the traffic situation would worsen.
Ajay Ahluwalia, the chief general manager (technical) of NHAI in the eastern region, said he was yet to receive any letter from the railways regarding the repairs.