Rs 1,700 crore bridge gone in seconds: Is Bihar's bridge collapse a planned demolition?

In a tragic event in Bihar, a bridge that tumbled last year, has collapsed again and sparked a divide within the state administration with certain officials claiming that it wasn't an accidental collapse but was a planned demolition. While the incident has triggered controversy against the ruling government, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has said that a strict action will be taken against the people who are responsible. 

The visuals of Rs 1,700 crore bridge collapsing in seconds have gone viral and while there is no major injuries, the government has come out with a remark that the bridge had serious defects. The incident happened on Sunday and the opposition BJP has been urging Nitish Kumar to step down from his post. The bridge was under-construction in Bihar's Bhagalpur over the Ganga river and it was being built to connect Khagaria district with Bhagalpur. 

A portion of bridge was collapsed on April 30, 2022. While it was reported that the bridge had serious defects, the construction was resumed again only to let the bridge collapse for the second time on Sunday. Some of the officials have said that the bridge was deliberately demolished under expert advice as it had flaws in its design. However, the Bihar government had reacted in a fashion that it wasn't a planned demolition by assuring that action will be taken against the people behind the collapse. 

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told ANI, "The bridge that collapsed on Sunday collapsed last year too. I have instructed officials to take strict action. It is not being constructed correctly and that's why it is collapsing again. The department will look into it and action will be taken." It has been reported that the Chief Minister has ordered the Buidling Construction Department's additional chief secretary Pratyaya Amrit to form an inquiry committee to probe the matter. 

Bihar's Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav and Additional Chief Secretary Pratyay Amrit had held a press conference after the bridge collapse during which Yadav said, "A portion of this bridge 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." 

Addressing the press conference, Pratyay Amrit said, "It was decided that we must not take any chance and wait for a final report. So, we went ahead with pulling down parts of the bridge." Responding to BJP's criticisms that Nitish Kumar must resign, Yadav said, "Last year, a portion of this bridge had given away in a thunderstorm. It was an incident which was widely talked about and I strongly raised it in my capacity as the then Leader of Opposition. Upon coming to power, we ordered an inquiry and sought expert opinion." 

Yadav further said 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 incident confirms our worst apprehensions." "This bridge is of great importance for north Bihar where connectivity will greatly improve once its begins to function. We are committed to completing the project after setting right everthing that has been wrong", Yadav added. 

The bridge was being constructed at a cost of over Rs 1,700 crore and it was supposed to get completed in November, 2019. Though no injuries were reported after the bridge collapse, it has been reported that a guard working near the bridge has gone missing. Chandan Kumar, circle officer of Parbatta, Bihar, said, "After the bridge collapse, a person working as a guard with SP Singla Company is said to be missing. His body hasn't been recovered yet. Search by SDRF and NDRF teams is underway to trace him."