May 05, 2023

1.8 mile bridge under construction in India has collapsed for the second time

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A 1.8 mile (three km) long bridge under construction over the river Ganga in the eastern part of India has collapsed for the second time within one year, The Times of India reported. The incident has raised questions over the quality of the infrastructure being built. Luckily, no casualties have been reported thus far.

Delays in the execution of the work and concerns about safety usually accompany infrastructure projects in India. Last year, a suspension bridge over another river in the western part of the country collapsed just days after it was repaired. At least 132 people were killed in the accident.

The recent collapse occurred in the eastern state of Bihar, where the four-lane concrete bridge was being built to connect the towns of Bhagalpur and Khagaria, located on either bank of the mighty river Ganga.

The bridge's construction began in 2014 and was scheduled to be completed by 2019. Being built for 17 billion rupees (US$ 208 million), the construction received multiple extensions but became national news when it collapsed in April last year.

Back then, pillars four, five, and six had collapsed, and a loose cable stand was cited as the reason. Officials had then stated that strong winds during a thunderstorm had upended a stand for the tension cable that was keeping concrete slabs together during the construction phase.

The state's government then ordered a probe and approached the Indian Institute of Technology at Roorkee (IIT-Roorkee) to conduct a study and identify the exact cause. The study's final report was still awaited when pillars nine, ten, and 11 of the bridge, each measuring 100 feet (30.48 m), collapsed and fell into the river around six in the evening, local time.

The collapse was captured by a few people in the area and widely circulated on social media.

Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister of Bihar, has ordered an inquiry into the incident. However, many have pointed out the poor quality of materials used in the construction as the likely cause of the collapse.

After last year's collapse, Union transport minister, Nitin Gadkari, had refuted claims of strong winds as the cause and placed the blame squarely on sub-par construction materials. The state's road construction department handles the construction and has been outsourced to a private company. Poor quality of construction materials allows builders to maximize their profits from the contract.

However, the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister, Tejaswi Yadav have attributed the collapse to a faulty design and incorrect construction. Yadav has further stated that the government was planning to demolish the structure due to its flaws.

Canadian design and engineering firm, McElhanney, is also involved in the project and said it will cooperate with the investigation, CNN reported.

The government is waiting for the final report to be submitted, after which it plans to take action against officials and the company involved in the bridge's construction.

For residents of the state, the upcoming bridge would help decongest traffic across the three road bridges that are functional across the river. The wait for better infrastructure has now been prolonged by many more years.