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Cave-in cripples rail, road traffic

Road traffic in the town went haywire on Thursday following the railway overbridge collapse at Maripur on Wednesday.

However, the accident relief train accompanied by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), launched an operation to clear the blocked tracks of Muzaffarpur-Hajipur and Muzaffarpur Narkatiaganj sections on a war footing. Train movement on the aforesaid sections remained crippled for the second consecutive day on Thursday.

Rail safety commissioner, East Central Railway, S. Nayak would arrive in Muzaffarpur to conduct a probe on November 29 and 30.

He will sit in the office of the station master of Muzaffarpur station between 10.30am and 6pm on Friday and between 9am and 12noon on Saturday. The railways have appealed people who have information on the accident to provide Nayak their version. Railway officials remained tight-lipped about the maintenance of the British-era rail overbridge. “All the facts about the bridge would come out during the probe by the commissioner of railway safety,” said a railway official.

On Thursday, the divisional railway manager (DRM) (Sonepur), Rajesh Kumar Tiwary, and the technical team of the civil engineering and building construction departments of the East Central Railway, Hajipur, monitored the restoration work and lifting of debris from the accident site.

Both the flanks of the bridge have been barricaded and Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel have been deployed.

The DRM hopefully said trains would be restored on the said sections by late Thursday evening.

Engineers from the track maintenance team have also been pressed into service to replace the broken and damaged tracks on a 20-metre stretch. Derailed and damaged wagons are being lifted from the tracks. Debris is being cleared from the tracks.

The railways’ engineering cell has declared the remaining portion of the bridge risky. District magistrate Anupam Kumar, who inspected the wreckage site of the mishap, said he spoke to the top railway authorities, including East Central Railway, Hajipur, assistant general manager Ajay Shukla and the DRM (Sonepur) and stressed the need for constructing a new flyover at the site immediately.

“They have assured him that steps for constructing a new rail overbridge would be initiated after completing necessary formalities. At present, the traffic personnel are finding it difficult to regulate the traffic load on the two alternative routes,” said the district magistrate (DM).

“Nearly 110 personnel of Bihar Military Police 6 and the homeguard jawans apart from 70 traffic constables are at work in the township to regulate the traffic load. Traffic on Kalambagh road and Juran Chapra road has increased manifold owing to the bridge collapse,” said Shailendra Kumar, traffic officer. A revised traffic plan has been implemented to reduce the traffic load and avoid congestion on Bhagwanpur-Kamalbagh road and Barhampura-Juran Chapra road from the town’s western part. “About 50 dividers have been set up across the city with the help of nylon ropes to prevent traffic snarls. The roads are choked with encroachments and illegally parked four-wheelers,” said Ranjan Kumar, a businessman.

“The collapsed bridge had been a lifeline of the town, connecting its eastern and western parts. But now, the alternative routes are unable to cope with the traffic rush,” said Naresh Kumar, a student.