Under-construction Bagmati bridge in limbo again

Published On: July 20, 2019 07:11 AM NPT By: Madan Thakur

RAUTAHAT, July 20: The construction of a bridge over Bagmati River which connects Gadhimai Municipality of Rautahat with Barahathawa Municipality of Sarlahi has hit a snag after the recent flood triggered by torrential rainfall washed away three slabs connecting the third and fourth pillars of the bridge.

Gadhimai Municipality had assigned a crusher plant to extract raw materials from the river.

According to the locals, rampant excavation carried using large vehicles has weakened the bridge. Keshav Sharma, director general (DG) of the Road Division, admitted that the slabs of the bridge were swept away by the flood. 

“The massive flood eight days ago washed away three slabs of the under-construction bridge,” said Sharma. According to him, the contractor company will destroy the bridge and then reconstruct it again.

He says excavation undertaken by breaching the standard set by the government led to the destruction. Surya SBS Elite JV has been assigned with the project to construct the bridge. The under-construction concrete bridge in Samanpur of Gadhimai Municipality is incomplete even after the deadline.

As per the initial deadline, the project should have been completed by 2017. The deadline has been extended twice since then but still the project is heading nowhere. Now, the deadline will be extended further as the bridge has been damaged again.

According to a local Rabindra Sahani, the construction company had fixed the slabs in a rush as to complete the project before the expiry of another deadline. However, the massive rainfall and resulting flood washed away the slabs within a week. Surya SBS Elite Company JV had bagged the contract for Rs 350 million. Reportedly, the slabs were fixed after the onset of monsoon which is why they could not hold the pressure of the heavy floods.

Site in-charge Krishna Ghimire informed Republica that the flood has also damaged the machines and equipment of the construction company. He confirmed that the slab was plastered on May 23. Similarly, flood has also damaged the slab of another bridge being constructed over Bagmati River to connect Gangapipara of Durga Bhagwati and Ramnagar Rural Municipality of Sarlahi.

As informed by site in-charge Ghimire, the slabs constructed for connecting pillar 1 with pillar 2 fell off after 12 days of construction. Not just that, the flood has also inflicted damage to the four heavy machines used for the construction of the bridge as well as a large and a small generator. It also damaged 1,100 sacks of cement kept in stock for the construction of the bridge.

He clarified that the company has been compelled to bear huge loss due to the natural disaster. The responsible authority has already been informed about the loss and destruction. Deepak Bhattarai, chief of the Bridge Department, speculates that the large holes dug up in the river for sand excavation must have caused the destruction. Meanwhile, he claimed that they have not officially been reported about the destruction caused by the flood in the Bagmati River.

Expressing his disappointment toward the construction projects without proper evaluation of environment, Shyam Chanda Jha, a social activist from Durgabhagwati as well as a member of Nepali Congress (NC), demanded proper inspection from the responsible authority to curb river exploitation. He says that it’s not possible to protect Rauthat from the devastation of floods in the upcoming days if rivers and natural resources are exploited in the current pace.

Despite being one of the ambitious projects, the construction of the bridge has been stalled time and again due to various reasons. The sluggish construction of the bridge has disappointed the locals. The massive flood triggered by the incessant rainfall since last Thursday has left hundreds of settlements inundated and has also damaged infrastructures worth millions. 

Last one week has been tormenting for the people in various parts of the country especially the tarai as people in hundreds have been rendered homeless by the continuous rainfall and floods. Vehicular movement has been disrupted along multiple sections of various highways due to landslides. 

With this, the development projects carried out in hurry have been damaged within a few days of completion causing loss of millions to the government. The blacktopping of the roads which was carried out at the eleventh hour before the end of the last fiscal year have started wearing off in less than a week. 

The dreams of many people in tarai who were elated to see little progress of the bridge after so many years lament that they may have to wait for a few more years for the completion of the bridge. They have also urged the responsible authority to inspect and take action against the crushers which have been illegally extracting resources from the rivers.

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