Highways authority, PWD could have averted gas leak tragedy!

  • Arjun Sharma, Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
  • Updated: Jun 16, 2015 18:57 IST

Months before the ill-fated ammonia gas tanker stuck under a bridge at Doraha, leading to a gas leak that killed five persons and affecting hundreds, the municipal council of the town had informed the authorities concerned that several trucks and tractor-trailers were hitting the base of the bridge.

The nagar council also informed the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) that there was no warning signboard near the bridge, which could have averted the tragedy on the intervening night of Friday and Saturday.
Bant Singh, president of the council elected in February this year, said cases of trucks and other heavy vehicles getting stuck under the bridge were reported from time to time.

"However, neither efforts were made to improve the structure nor any warning boards were installed on the route to stop heavy vehicles,"he said.

To make the situation worse, the level of the road beneath the bridge increased by at least four inches after a fresh layer of gravel was applied on it.

While the public works department (PWD) and NHAI officials met on Monday to discuss the matter, the municipal council has decided to dig the road to lower its level.

"If the authorities concerned fail to lower the level of the road, we will do it ourselves,"said Bant Singh.
Council's former president Inderjit Singh Kala, too, said both NHAI and PWD were asked to take immediate action on the road during his tenure.

"If the level of the road were lowered at that time, the incident in which five people died would not have happened,"said Kala.

He said even now, the authorities concerned were not keen to take steps to improve the design of the bridge.

Defending the bridge design, PWD sub-divisional officer Davinder Singh said the bridge was constructed as per the guidelines of the Central government several years back.

"The same design was used for constructing bridges throughout the country,"said Davinder Singh.

"Neither efforts were made to improve the structure of the bridge nor any warning board was installed on the route to stop heavy vehicles."

Bant Singh, Doraha municipal council president

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