Why Bridges In Bihar Keep Collapsing

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, speaking on the collapse of The Sultanganj-Aguwani Ghat bridge, voiced strong displeasure and condemned the poor quality of the work, as well as the inordinate delay in completion.

Bihar bridge collapse PTI Photo

When a man-made accident occurs, after the first few days of chaos, rescue operations, customary meetings and discussions, it all gets forgotten about the lives affected and the people responsible. The focus then shifts to either a political blame game or it gets thrown under the carpet. About 14 months ago, parts of an under-construction bridge collapsed in the Bhagalpur district of Bihar during a thunderstorm due to a loose cable. The same four-lane bridge caved in again on Sunday. 

Although no casualties have been reported, some media reports suggest that several workers have gone missing. The Sultanganj-Aguwani Ghat bridge, the foundation stone laid down by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar in 2014, was built at a cost of more than Rs 1,700 crore and was originally slated to be inaugurated in 2020. Just like the last year, this time too, CM Kumar ordered a customary probe into the collapse, while tackling a wave of criticism over poor construction and safety standards. 

The incident brought to light the countless bridges that have come crashing down in the northern state in recent history. Bihar is no stranger to the falling of bridges. There have already been at least four bridge collapse incidents in the state this year.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, speaking on the latest collapse, voiced strong displeasure and condemned the poor quality of the work and the inordinate delay in completion. The Bihar government also slapped a show-cause notice on the construction company that took up the project. But the question still remains, why do bridges keep collapsing in Bihar?

Sub-Par Construction Standards

The breaking of the bridge, still under construction, into two halves and falling into the river Ganga below it was captured on camera raising questions about its construction. The bridge had reportedly also suffered damage due to a storm in April, further exacerbating the situation.

When a few pillars of the same four-lane bridge collapsed last year, Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari blamed it on the low quality of materials used for construction. 

In December 2022, a bridge across the Burhi Gandak River in Begusarai collapsed due to cracks and falling pillars. Another bridge collapse occurred in Nalanda district in November last year, resulting in the death of a labourer and injuries to another. Other under-construction bridges in Kishanganj and Saharsa districts collapsed even before their inauguration.

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