The Mahananda Barrage on the Fulbari by-pass road near Siliguri will be off limits for heavy vehicles (above 10 tons) from the first week of April as the department concerned will carry out repair work there.

State tourism minister Gautam Deb today held a meeting with the district administration, Jalpaiguri divisional commissioner, and officials of the Teesta Barrage, Asian Highway and National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) at Uttarkanya here in this regard.

Mr Deb maintained that the Mahananda Barrage bridge at Fulbari over the Mahananda river is in bad shape and in dire need of repairs. “The tender process will soon begin, and we need around five-six months for the entire repair process to complete.

Meanwhile, heavy vehicles over 10 tons will not be allowed on the bridge and will be diverted,” said Mr Deb. The alternative routes for north-east-bound good vehicles have been marked as Md-Baksh-Rangapani bazaar- Kawakhali More- Chathat Medical More- Noukaghat More- Tinbatti More-Uttarkanya-Fulbari, the minister said.

However, the condition of the road from Md Baksh to Kawakhali More via Rangapani bazaar is not good and requires further widening, filling up of pot-holes and building culverts over it, he added.

“The route which is 6 km, requires widening for the heavy vehicles to pass through. At present, it is five metres and will be widened to 10 meters by the Public Works Department (PWD. The tender has been done.

In the meantime, we will issue a public notification regarding the closure of the Mahananda Barrage for goods vehicles and the alternate routes that have been marked for them.

There will be time restrictions as well. Such traffic wil be diverted right from the Assam border to all places concerned where the renovated bridge will be connecting. The administration will take care of the alternative measures so that there is no hindrance to the traffic flow.

There will be a time frame for the passage of every kind of vehicle until the bridge is completely renovated,” the minister said. “It is a matter of great concern, and we need to impose such restrictions or else, the bridge will collapse, breaking connectivity altogether,” he said.