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Damage to Rupnagar overbridge: PWD yet to fix responsibility despite reports of glaring lapses

The 1.4 km overbridge built at a cost of 110 cr was constructed during the SAD-BJP regime and was opened for traffic in 2016
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By Ravinder Vasudeva
PUBLISHED ON DEC 28, 2019 11:02 PM IST

Notwithstanding the glaring lapses found in construction of 110-crore bridge over Sutlej on Rupnagar bypass whose reinforced (RE) wall had bulged out within four years of its opening, the public works department (PWD) has dithered away from fixing responsibility for the damage.

Action against the contractor and the department officials concerned was still pending despite a committee headed by the technical advisor of Punjab government has found “lapses” in construction of the RE wall of the bridge. A slip road from one side of the bridge leading to IIT Ropar had also to be shut in August due to the damage.

Technical advisor committee’s findings

Technical advisor-led committee’s findings on October 14, the copy of which is with Hindustan Times, had found that the RE walls of the bridge is leading outwards instead of leaning inwards and no gap between the crash barrier and RE wall was found, resulting in compounding the bulge.

“Flat RE panels have been used on the curve location and the soil test has not been conducted for ascertaining percentage of silt and clay at locations,” the findings say.

Findings attribute damage to contractor’s negligence

The report categorically attributes damage to the bridge as result of inadequacy on the part of contractor citing that RE wall is a proprietary item and its specifications and material properties should be the responsibility of the contractor.

Now, the contactor has started repairing the RE wall from its own expenditure.

Earlier, an internal report prepared by the quality control wing’s chief engineer cum-chief vigilance officer, Mukesh Kumar Goyal, had found that not only the RE walls of the approach road of the bridge have not only displaced from its original position by 100-150 mili meter (mm) but the approach road from both Ropar and Banga sides has also developed depression and a portion of metalled road had caved in. Ideally, the displacement should have been 0-20 mm as per codal provisions, report said.

“This bridge was built merely four years ago and the depression of its RE walls clearly shows that the work was carried out by the officers/employees with negligence approach,” the probe had pointed.

Spot inspection by IIT Roorkie

It was after this report that previous secretary, PWD, Husan Lal, on July 17, constituted a committee led by technical advisor to state to carry out the safety audit of the bridge from a ‘reputed organisation’ under their supervision. The committee entrusted the task of spot inspection to IIT Roorkie, which had also raised similar objections, it is learnt.

It is said that Husan Lal was so upset with embarrassment the cracks in the newly built bridge had brought that he ordered the XEN concerned to bear the cost of IIT Roorkie team from its personal expense, citing why the state should pay for such lapses.

Those responsible yet to be identified

The contractor now has started repairing the bridge, whose one lane has been closed for vehicular traffic for the past one month, but the department was maintaining silence on as in whose fault led to the damage in the first place.

“It is an interesting scenario where every report found the lapses, but those responsible were yet to be pinpointed. The contractor has now started repairing the bridge which is also admission of fault,” said a senior official privy to the developments.

Secretary, PWD, Vikas Partap, who had assumed charge recently, was not available for his comments.

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