The only surviving pontoon bridge in Delhi on the Yamuna, which provided a bypass to the narrow Wazirabad bridge and connected Wazirabad Road with Majnu Ka Tila in north Delhi, was washed away due to sudden rise in the water level in the river on Thursday evening.
Senior public works department officials said the bridge was broken into three parts and 35 of the 62 pontoons, commonly known as boats, were washed away.
The bridge was used by two-wheelers, cars, auto-rickshaws and small tempos to avoid heavy traffic on the old Wazirabad bridge.
The PWD and traffic police had closed the bridge for vehicular traffic as soon as the water level started rising at the Wazirabad barrage.
The deputy commissioner office (east) also rescued 25 people living on the banks of Yamuna later Thursday evening.
This is the first time a pontoon bridge has been washed away in Delhi. PWD officials said the bridge remains operational during winters and early summers when it does not rain in Delhi.
The record rain this year in Delhi and northern India in the month of February, however, resulted in rise in the level of Yamuna.
“The Haryana government released 40,000 cusecs water in the Yamuna from Hathni Kund, which reached Wazirabad on Thursday evening.
"We were not informed about the release of water. Our team spotted the sudden increase in water level and stopped the movement of vehicles on this temporary bridge. The bridge was washed away around 7.30pm in the evening,” said Delhi PWD spokesperson Deepak Panwar.
“It will take us about four weeks to reconstruct the bridge and open it for traffic,” Panwar said. While the irrigation department of Haryana informed its counterparts in Delhi, the city’s irrigation officials failed to circulate the information to other departments. ‘
“The water was released on February 6. It touched the warning sign mark of 204-metre at Wazirabad at about 7pm on February 7. The water has now started receding,” a senior irrigation department official said.