Political squabbling as floods wash away approach road for a new bridge in Bihar

Patna, Jul 16 (PTI): An approach road for a new bridge connecting Gopalganj to East Champaran in Bihar, opened only last month, was washed away by the Gandak river, which is in spate, leaving the opposition and the ruling dispensation in the state at each other’s throats.

Sharing an image of the caved-in portion of the road on his Twitter handle, leader of the opposition Tejashwi Yadav demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who had inaugurated the Sattarghat bridge on June 16.

The bridge, constructed at a cost of over Rs 100 crore and over a period of eight years, is more than a km long.

The state government, however, quickly came out with a clarification that it was not the bridge itself that had collapsed.

The Road Construction Department issued a statement, saying the caved-in portion of the road was situated 'two kilometres away from the bridge' and that it was the approach route for an 18-metre-long causeway that leads to the Sattarghat bridge.

'The causeway, too, is intact. The damage to the road is not the result of any defect in construction but due to increased water pressure on the Gopalganj side. The road will be made ready for traffic as soon as the floods subside,' the statement said. Nonetheless, images of the damaged pathway had gone viral on social media since the previous day.

The RJD leader shared the image, advertising it as a failure of the government since the chief minister had inaugurated the bridge, connecting Gopalganj to East Champaran.

The ruling JD(U)-BJP combine hit back at the RJD leader.

JD(U) leader and Information and Public Relations Minister Neeraj Kumar, party spokesman Rajiv Ranjan Prasad and BJP spokesman Nikhil Anand came out with strongly worded statements, denouncing the opposition leader for 'peddling lies'.

“Don't you understand the difference between a bridge and an approach road? Despite being the leader of the opposition, you come up with such irresponsible statements', Neeraj Kumar fumed at Yadav.

As per the state disaster management department, both Gopalganj and East Champaran are among a total of eight flood-affected districts in the state.

A total of 2.18 lakh people across 137 panchayats have been affected by the floods caused by heavy rainfall, upto 45 per cent above normal, in the catchment areas of neighbouring Nepal where rivers like Gandak and Kosi originate.

As of now, 3,676 people residing in badly hit areas have been evacuated. 2,731 put up at relief camps while more than 15,000 people were depending on 29 community kitchens set up for feeding those affected by the calamity.

NDA ally LJP joins oppn in attacking Bihar govt on road collapse

Chirag Paswan on Thursday joined the opposition in attacking the Bihar government over the collapse of a road in floods, saying it raises questions on the claim of 'zero corruption', while also demanding action against the 'guilty'.

The state government has insisted that it is an approach road to a new bridge connecting Gopalganj to East Champaran that has been washed away, and not the bridge itself as alleged by opposition leaders like Rashtriya Janata Dal's Tejashwi Yadav.

In a tweet, LJP president Chirag Paswan targeted the Bihar government headed by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.  'Part of a bridge built at the cost of Rs 264 crore has collapsed today. Any work done with public money should be carried out maintaining quality standards. Incidents like this raise questions in the public eye over zero corruption.

The LJP demands a high-level probe to punish the guilty quickly,' he said.  His tweet is seen as yet another instance of Paswan criticising Kumar's government in which the BJP is a partner.  Though the LJP is a Bharatiya Janata Party ally, it is not a part of the Bihar government led by Janata Dal (United) chief Kumar. (PTI)

ANI adds: Reports about Sattarghat Bridge being damaged is false: Bihar road construction department

The road construction department of Bihar, on Thursday, negated reports of the Sattarghat Bridge of Gopalganj being damaged.

"There is false news about Sattarghat Bridge being damaged," said Amrit Lal Meena, the Additional Chief Secretary of the Road Construction Department of Bihar.

According to Meena, the main Sattarghat Bridge, which is 1.7 km long, is completely safe.

"About two km from the Sattarghat main bridge, the access path of a smaller 18-meter long bridge, towards Gopalganj, has been cut. This smaller bridge is located inside the dam of the Gandak River. The pressure of water in the Gandak river is more towards Gopalganj. Due to this, a portion of road going towards the smaller bridge has been cut," he said.

Meena added that there is no irregularity in the scheme. The incident was a natural disaster caused due to unexpected water pressure, and the structure of the smaller bridge was not damaged due to erosion. He further informed that the traffic of the bridge will be restored as soon as the water pressure decreases.

Meena's statement came in lieu of earlier reports of that said a portion of Sattarghat Bridge, that was inaugurated by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar last month in Gopalganj, had collapsed on Wednesday. 

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