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Traffic woes for pilgrims after bridge collapse

- Diversion leads to congestion on roads, devotees on way to Sultanganj set out on foot without food

Collapse of yet another bridge in the district on Sunday night has spelled chaos for kanwariyas on way to Sultanganj and Dumka.

Girders of the Baijani bridge, around 8km south of Bhagalpur, broke on Sunday night bringing traffic on the Bhagalpur-Hansdiha road to a standstill. Since then, traffic has been diverted to the Banka-Amarpur road, triggering chaos on the roads.

Kanwariyas (devotees on their way to Shravani Mela) are already out of options to reach the Basukinath temple in Dumka and Sultanganj from Bhagalpur. Apart from the Vikramshila bridge in the north, roads in the other three directions are damaged. So, the devotees are forced to walk 110km to Sultanganj, leaving their vehicles on the Bhagalpur-Hansdiha road.

The district administration has diverted traffic to the Banka-Amarpur road after the bridge collapse. But Gurhatta Chak and Tatarpur — already congested roads — are the only areas through which the road can be accessed leading to massive traffic snarls.

Bhagalpur district magistrate Birendra Yadav was unavailable for comment. Sources said the administration sent an urgent message to the state headquarters on Monday to look into traffic problems.

A team of engineers from the Bihar State Bridge Construction Corporation, who inspected the damaged bridge near Baijani village on Monday, said repair was not possible and construction was the only way.

Sailendra Kumar Singh, executive engineer, road construction department, said: “Since the bridge is beyond repair, a diversion would be put up soon to restore traffic movement.” Sources in the department although said that would be a time-consuming job and the government would have to sanction Rs 30-40 lakh for the project.

Ashok Kumar, a kanwariya stuck near Rajoun, 40km south of Bhagalpur, on the Bhagalpur-Hansdiha road on Tuesday said: “We fetched Ganga jal from Bhagalpur and took the dilapidated Bhagalpur-Hansdiha road. But we could not take the vehicle all the way and started walking. We all are hungry because we left our food in the vehicle.”

Ashok, along with 33 men, women and children, from Kishanganj were on their way to Basukinath temple.