After Bihar bridge collapse, instances of similar incidents revealed that more than half-a-dozen bridges have collapsed in the state already. Several RTI applications revealed that over nine bridges had collapsed in the state over the last three years.
This Sunday, at dawn, an under-construction tunnel on the Yamunotri National Highway in Uttarakhand’s district of Uttarakashi collapsed trapping 40 workers inside. The regrettable part is not the tunnel giving away or an infrastructural collapse, but that it could have been avoided.
As the rescue operations to save 40 lives continue for the sixth consecutive day with no definite timeline yet for the rescue, it’s time for a disaster review of India’s major infrastructure projects.
Uttarakashi tunnel, central government’s prime infrastructure outing being constructed under the Char Dham project, aims to join the Gangotri and Yamunotri-axis under the Radi pass. However, its collapse on Sunday immediately drew attention to a similar but deadly incident in the state. In February 2021, over 100 workers died after being trapped inside a tunnel in Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project following a flash flood.
Sultanganj bridge collapse
In June of this year, social media was bombarded with viral videos of the Sultanganj Bridge collapse. This was the second time that India’s 1.8 mile long bridge collapsed since work began on the site in 2017. The four-lane bridge over India’s most revered and holy river Ganga is being constructed at a cost of whopping Rs 1,716 crore. The bridge, expected to connect Sultanganj in Bhagalpur district and Aguwani in Khagaria district of Bihar, collapsed during construction.
The probe team, in its report submitted to the Road Construction Department, said there was a defect in the design of the bridge. In its report, IIT Roorkee said that as a result of the technically flawed design the pillars could not support the load of the superstructure. Therefore it recommended that a new bridge be constructed instead of repair work on the damaged structure.
As the Bihar bridge collapse opened further investigations into similar incidents, it was found that more than a half a dozen bridges have collapsed in the state already. Several RTI applications revealed that over nine bridges had collapsed in the state over the last three years.
Bridge collapse on Bhairbi-Sairang line railway project
In August this year, a railway bridge under construction collapsed killing at least 26 and injuring 2, in the north-eastern state of Mizoram. It received consderable attention and flak from the western media as the state-run authority also opened an investigation. The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) said in a statement on X that the incident occurred while the work was in progress on the Bhairbi-Sairang line railway project.
Coming back to Uttarakashi, District Magistrate Abhishek Ruhela said the trapped workers are safe and being provided with necessities like oxygen, food, water through air compressed pipes. But how safe are the workers across the nation from several already-constructed and under-construction infrastructure projects still remains a big question.