Bike riders drown after crash

Durgapur: Two youths drowned when their motorcycle apparently swerved off a road and plunged into a drinking water supply canal of the Damodar river through a missing concrete railing of a narrow bridge here on Tuesday night.

Local fishermen brought out the bodies of Shanku Das and Gautam Yadav and the two-wheeler on Wednesday morning after a nightlong search.

Das, 32, was a driver, while Yadav, 22, worked as a security guard at a private factory in Durgapur. They were residents of Durgapur Projects Ltd Colony nearby.

Sources said the duo had been going to a cremation around 10pm.

Local people alleged that a portion of the railing of the bridge had broken about five years back. "Despite repeated demands, it wasn't repaired. If the railing were in place, the motorcycle would not have fallen into the canal," said a local resident.

"One can lose control of his motorcycle but if the railing had been there, they would not have fallen into the water. We have been telling the local administration repeatedly to repair the railing but nothing has been done. Children and other pedestrians may fall into the canal especially at night," said Jawaharlal Akure, a local resident.

Sources said the 10ft wide and 30ft long bridge over the canal to the water treatment plant of Durgapur Municipal Corporation had been constructed by the Damodar Valley Corporation almost six decades back.

"At least 15ft of the railing is missing. An accident like last night's can happen again," said Akure.

However, the DVC and the Bengal irrigation department passed the buck to each other on Wednesday.

The DVC said it had constructed the Durgapur barrage and its canals and feeder canals and the bridges but all the structures were later handed over to the Bengal government in 1965. "Now, their maintenance is the responsibility of the government," said Bijay Kumar, a DVC spokesperson in Calcutta.

The irrigation department said the bridge belonged to the DVC and it had the responsibility to maintain the structure.

"The Durgapur barrage on the Damodar and the bridges over its irrigation canals were handed over to us. But the bridge on drinking water supply canal still remains with the DVC. We have urged them to repair the bridge soon," said Amaresh Singh, the executive engineer of irrigation in Durgapur division.

Local Trinamul councillor Shipul Saha said the portion where railing was missing would be barricaded with bamboo poles soon to stop recurrence of such accidents.


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