| The Krupman bridge shortly after it was opened to traffic
Raiganj, Oct. 10: Three trucks of more than 25 tonnes — the permissible weight on the floating Krupman bridge over the river Sudani — were caught by the army last night.
The bridge has suffered a damage, prompting the army to complain to the Bengal chief secretary against the North Dinajpur administration, accusing it of flouting safety measures. Drivers of all three vehicles have been arrested.
The trucks had been issued paper slips by the district administration-designated agency that owns the weigh bridge. The slips showed that the goods-laden vehicles were less than 25 tonnes.
One of the trucks (registration number WB39378) had a slip, which said it weighed 24.9 tonnes. “But the minute the vehicle — headed for Siliguri — got on to the bridge at the Domohona end, it started vibrating. Army personnel posted on the other side, at Dalkhola, seized it and took it to Purnea More. On weighing, we found out that it was 48.43 tonnes,” said Lt Col Kumar Abhishek, the project-in-charge of the bridge.
Made up of floating rafts, the Krupman bridge was set up by the army after the Bailey bridge — a part of NH34 that connects north and south Bengal — collapsed on August 22. This is supposed to be an arrangement for six months within which the National Highways Authority of India will have to set up a permanent structure.
Abhishek said two more trucks were apprehended, both Siliguri-bound, and they too weighed 31.82 tonnes and 28 tonnes respectively. “All these vehicles had been waived through by those manning the civil administration-authorised weigh bridge,” the officer alleged.
Not only that, the driver of another truck, seeing that strict checking was on, sped past the Dalkhola camp of the army and made for the bridge. “By the time it reached the Raiganj side, we could do nothing. We don’t have a camp there. The jawan posted there could do little to stop the driver,” said Abhishek.
The officer said overloaded trucks and vehicles exceeding the 10kmph limit have damaged the bridge. “The outer membrane of one of the air vessels have burst. If the inner membrane had given away, a major accident could have occurred,” Abhishek said.
District magistrate Sukumar Bhattacharyya has confirmed that the army has complained to him about the four overloaded trucks. Police superintendent Swapan Banerjee Purnapatra said action would be taken against the owner of the weigh bridge.