The bailey bridge that was set up parallel to the Jai Hind bridge (erstwhile Majherhat bridge) in Kolkata, will be installed on the affected portion of the bridge on the Balasan river at Matigara in Siliguri, it is learnt. The bailey bridge in Kolkata was set up after the old structure collapsed in September 2018.
“The bailey bridge has been closed after the inauguration of the Jai Hind bridge that connects south Kolkata’s Behala to Kidderpore in December last year. The structure will now be transported and installed on the damaged portion of the bridge on Balasan river in Siliguri,” said engineers of the NH-IX Division of the PWD, which is responsible for the maintenance of the 180-meter-long bridge in Siliguri.
A portion of the bridge, which was built in the mid-1960s, has caved in after one of the pillars tilted under pressure of the swollen river below. The engineers said installation work will begin soon and that light vehicles will start plying on the bridge from next month.
Meanwhile, Darjeeling BJP MP Raju Bista and MatigaraNaxalbari MLA Anandamay Barman visited the bridge today. Raising concerns on the management of bridges, Mr Bista alleged that the state government maintained the bridge and was responsible for its upkeep.
“The National Highways Authority of India had handed over the bridge to the state government for its maintenance and necessary repair, but no maintenance, even the preventive maintenance, was carried out,” Mr Bista
In West Bengal, the supervision of various bridges is entrusted to different ministries and government departments. Experts said there was no blanket solution for bridge repairing and strengthening, and the bridges need to be
treated differently depending on the type of distress identified during structural monitoring.
Mr Bista also said the rampant illegal sand mining “patronized by the Trinamul Congress” could be the reason for the situation. Mr Bista said there will be a three-lane alternative bridge parallel to the existing bridge on the Balasan river on National Highway-31 and that the existing bridge will also be turned into a three-lane one later.
Another three-lane bridge on the Mahananda river on the same stretch will be with the Centre’s fund, he said. “The Centre has already sanctioned more than Rs 1000 crore for a 12.4 km-long elevated four-lane corridor between Balason and Sevoke.
A three-lane parallel bridge on Balasan river will be constructed, later the existing bridge will be built as three-lane. A bridge on the Mahananda river that falls on the corridor will also be constructed as three lanes,” Mr Bista added. The Trinamul Congress, on the other hand, took a dig at the MP.
“He should stop passing the buck. His tactics will not work. We have been demanding a six-lane road on the stretch for a long time to ease traffic congestion. But it has been delayed due to the non-cooperation of the Centre. People are aware of the role of the BJP MPs elected from this region. They never took any initiative for development. The state government has conducted a regular health audit of the bridge,” said Darjeeling district Trinamul Congress (Plains) chairman, Alok Chakravarty.
Mr Chakravarty further said the party never supported illegal sand mining.