Bihar BJP on Monday alleged that Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav was “hiding the truth” over the collapse of an under-construction bridge in the state. The saffron party slammed the RJD leader for his comment that ”many structural defects” of the bridge have been pointed out by experts. The bridge over the Ganga river was supposed to connect Khagaria district with Bhagalpur.
Reacting to Yadav’s remark, senior BJP leader and former state road construction department minister Nitin Nabin told PTI, “I must say that the deputy chief minister is hiding the truth…he is not revealing the facts.
“When experts who inspected the bridge had already informed the government that there were serious structural defects, then why did the government allow the continuation of the construction work? The department should have immediately stopped that.” Nabin also claimed that even after the matter was raised in the state assembly during the budget session in March this year, the deputy CM “did not bother to inform the House about the status of the construction work”.
“He (Yadav) never said that the construction work has been stopped. Why didn’t the department take action against the erring officials or the contractor, engaged in building the bridge after experts’ opinion last year? The state government has been trying to protect the accused. This grand alliance government is least bothered about the development of Bihar…Neither the chief minister nor the deputy CM has time for the state,” the BJP leader said. The 3.16-km bridge being built since 2014 collapsed twice in 14 months – first on the Bhagalpur’s Sultanganj side in April 2022 and the second time on Sunday evening on the Khagaria side. Images of the bridge collapse that took place in Khagaria prompted Yadav to hold a press conference on Sunday evening. ”It may be recalled that a portion of this bridge had collapsed on April 30 last year. We had, thereafter, approached IIT-Roorkee, which is esteemed for its expertise in construction matters, to conduct a study. It is yet to come up with a final report but experts who had studied the structure had informed us that there were serious defects,” Yadav had said at the press conference held hours after the bridge collapsed on Sunday.
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Yadav had also disclosed that ”many structural defects” have been pointed out by experts and ”we have already pulled down many portions which have been flagged as particularly vulnerable. Today’s (Sunday’s) incident confirms our worst apprehensions”.
The incident attracted public outrage, prompting Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to order an investigation with instructions to punish those guilty for the bridge cave-in.
Last year, a portion of this bridge had given way in a thunderstorm, when the BJP was in power in the state.
”It was an incident which was widely talked about and I strongly raised it in my capacity as the then Leader of the Opposition. Upon coming to power, we ordered an inquiry and sought expert opinion,” said Yadav, in an apparent riposte to the BJP, now in opposition, which sought the CM’s resignation over the issue.
At least 30 slabs placed on three pillars of the four-lane Sultanganj-Aguani Ghat bridge caved in and fell on the river on Sunday.
No casualties were reported in the incident, the district administration said.
The bridge was said to have involved an estimated cost of Rs 1,700 crore.
A Haryana-based company has got the contract for the construction of the bridge, against which the BJP is now seeking action.
The bridge would be the sixth on the Ganga river to connect northern Bihar with its south, reducing travel time to Sultanagnj, Khagaria, Saharsa, Madhepura and Supaul.