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Bridge of hope plunges into river

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OUR CORRESPONDENT Dhubri   |     |   Published 21.10.08, 12:00 AM

Oct. 21: A newly constructed bridge between Fakirganj in Dhubri and Tikrikilla in the Garo Hills cracked down the middle and plunged into the river below on October 13, a month before it was to be thrown open to the public.

While the builders and the administration are trying to understand how the “mishap” occurred, for Fakirganj businessmen their hope of a smooth trade route has sunk into the Jinjinram, a 9km river that divides Dhubri and Garo Hills.

The businessmen need to mount and dismount their goods thrice before they reach the markets in Meghalaya. Such are the hassles of doing trade across a river.

A trader hires a vehicle to carry his goods to the riverfront, where the entire consignment is again carefully dismounted and loaded on a boat.

What could have been a one-time affair if a journey by road was possible is now an elaborate route, pushing up fringe prices.

“The demand for a bridge from Fakirganj to Tikrikilla is a long-pending one. The bridge had raised hopes of a convenient business route, but this sudden collapse has made the people apprehensive about whether the bridge will be completed in the near future,” the president of Jamadarhat anchalik gaon panchayat, Bharat Chandra Das, said.

Around 400,000 people would have benefited if the bridge was thrown open next month as scheduled.

Constructed with funds from the World Bank under Assam Agriculture Competitiveness Project, the broken bridge will now take another three months to build.

A technical error in fitting iron bars caused the collapse, a source said.

Pawan Kumar and Company Ltd was entrusted with the Rs 8.5crore project while an American firm — Louis Berger — was to monitor the quality of materials and technical aspects of the construction.

Dhubri deputy commissioner Jatindra Lahakar has ordered an inquiry into the collapse following a complaint lodged by the president of Jamadarhat anchalik gaon panchayat.

“All the materials being used in the bridge were manufactured in a Calcutta-based factory and here things are only rearranged with fittings according to specifications in the plan. But what went wrong can only be ascertained once the inquiry report is submitted,” a district official said.


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