A day after the collapse of an under-construction bridge over the Ganga river in Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday said strict action would be taken against those found guilty in the incident.
He also said the bridge that collapsed on Sunday had also caved in last year.
"The bridge is not being constructed properly and that is why it collapsed twice since April 2022. It's a serious matter…The department concerned has already initiated a thorough probe into it. Strict action will be taken against those found guilty," Kumar said, while talking to reporters here.
He also wondered why the bridge construction work that started in 2014 has not been completed so far.
"Why is it running behind the schedule? I have asked the department concerned to probe this also. The deputy CM is also monitoring the developments," Kumar said.
The 3.16-km bridge being built since 2014 collapsed twice in 14 months - first on the Bhagalpur’s Sultanganj side in April 2022 and the second time on Sunday evening on the Khagaria side.
The incident attracted public outrage, prompting the chief minister to order an investigation with instructions to punish those guilty for the disaster.
Immediately after the incident, Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav, who also holds the portfolio of the Road Construction Department, on Sunday said that the state government was planning to demolish the under-construction bridge because of structural flaws.
“It may be recalled that a portion of this bridge had collapsed on April 30 last year. We had, thereafter, approached IIT-Roorkee, which is esteemed for its expertise in construction matters, to conduct a study. It is yet to come up with a final report but experts who had studied the structure had informed us that there were serious defects," Yadav had said.
Last year, a portion of this bridge had been given away in a thunderstorm, when the BJP was in power in the state. It was an incident which was widely talked about and I strongly raised it in my capacity as the then Leader of the Opposition. Upon coming to power, we ordered an inquiry and sought expert opinion," said Yadav, in an apparent riposte to the BJP, now in opposition, which sought the CM's resignation over the issue.
At least 30 slabs placed on three pillars of the four-lane Sultanganj-Aguani Ghat bridge caved in and fell on the river on Sunday. No casualties were reported in the incident, the district administration said.
The bridge was said to have involved an estimated cost of Rs 1,700 crore.
A Haryana-based company has got the contract for the construction of the bridge, against which the BJP is now seeking action. The bridge would be the sixth on the Ganga river to connect northern Bihar with its south, reducing travel time to Sultanagnj, Khagaria, Saharsa, Madhepura and Supaul.
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