Rickety bridge bears load despite ban

Thousands of vehicles, including heavy trucks with loads, are plying on a bridge over an irrigation canal here though its operational life expired long time ago.

By ABHIJEET CHATTERJEE in Durgapur
  • Published 10.09.18
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Heavy vehicles cross the rundown bridge. Picture by Arup Sarkar

Durgapur: Thousands of vehicles, including heavy trucks with loads, are plying on a bridge over an irrigation canal here though its operational life expired long time ago.

The 79.248m-long and 6.096m-wide concrete bridge was constructed by the irrigation department in 1956 on Durgapur-Bankura Road. It is close to Durgapur barrage and links NH60 with Bankura.

Although construction of a new bridge by the public works department had started nearby, the work was stalled a year ago.

Most of the trucks bound for the Northeast and south India from Bankura use the dilapidated bridge regularly.

The administration has stopped plying of vehicles weighing more than 10 tonnes on the bridge after it was badly damaged in the 1978 floods but local residents said the ban was only on pen and paper.

"The road is mostly used by trucks and most of them are overloaded. The bridge trembles when heavy vehicles cross it. We fear it may collapse anytime," said Paritosh Maji, a local resident.

After inspecting the bridge in 2010, the administration found its operational life had expired and decided to construct the new bridge.

A PWD official in West Burdwan said vehicles were allowed to run on the old bridge till the new one was built as there was no alternative route. "But it was decided that vehicles would ply at 10km to 20km per hour and vehicles weighing more than 10 tonnes (trucks) were strictly banned," the official added.

The PWD (roads) was assigned to build the new bridge and work started in 2014.

"Work stopped frequently after the construction had started in 2014. We have repeatedly appealed to the administration to finish the work soon as we fear the old bridge may collapse anytime. But nothing has been done. We are more scared after the Majerhat bridge collapse," said Dibyendu Banerjee, another local resident.

The CPM had organised a road blockade for two hours in July demanding immediate completion of the new bridge.

Sources in the PWD (roads) in Durgapur said construction of the new bridge was stopped because of some technical issues. "There were big boulders lying on either bank of the canal. It was tough to break them using explosives as such an effort would have caused more damage to the old bridge. We later managed to remove the boulders using very low intensity explosives. The work on the bridge will resume after the monsoon," a PWD engineer said on condition of anonymity.