The iron plate on the damaged bridge on NH31C on Monday. Picture by Anirban Choudhury
Alipurduar, April 21: The Torsha bridge on NH31C, which connects the Northeast with Bihar, was blocked for more than seven hours today, after a loaded truck broke down by getting stuck on a damaged portion of the structure.
The iron plates which were set on the joints of slabs on the Torsha bridge, around 40km from here, have been damaged for more than two years.
Recently, repair was started on half part of the bridge and vehicles would ply through the other portion of the structure on an iron plate.
Heavy vehicles are also being allowed to travel on the iron plate. The portion, which is being repaired, is closed.
Around 7am today, a truck loaded with 60 tons of dolomite, on its way to Bihar from Assam broke down because of a mechanical snag and got stuck on the iron plate over the bridge. The bridge was blocked by the truck and around 700 vehicles were left stranded.
A crane was brought from Hasimara around noon and the truck was removed from the spot.
After that, repair started on the damaged stretch. Traffic resumed for light vehicles around 3pm.
Renuka Malhotra, who was going to Assam from Bihar, said: “We have been waiting for the road to be cleared for more than six hours. I have little children with me but the car cannot move forward. The place is quite far from populated areas and nothing is available on the spot, not even a bottle of water. Many people are struggling. It is beyond our imagination that such an important bridge on NH31C has not been repaired for such a long time.”
Sidhhartha Roy, a high school teacher, said: “I was going to Madarihat High School. I had to get down from the bus and I walked more than 2km and then boarded an autorickshaw from the other side of the bridge. I reached the school late. Hundreds of vehicles were stranded on the highway. This is nothing but carelessness on part of the officials. Surprisingly, the buses and heavy loaded lorries used to ply over a single iron plate.”
Raju Chatterjee, the executive engineer of NH10 division, said: “We have started the repair work as there was a slight delay in the tender process. This time we will repair all the joints over the bridge but it will take some time.”