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Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019

Sutlej bridge in Rupnagar develops cracks, govt orders safety audit by IIT Roorkee

The retaining walls of the approach road of the bridge were not only displaced by 100-150mm, but a portion of the metalled road has also caved in, found a PWD quality control wing team led by chief engineer (quality control) cum-chief vigilance officer Mukesh Kumar Goyal.

chandigarh Updated: Aug 27, 2019 08:12 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
The bridge was constructed at a cost of ₹110 crore; and (right) the contractor has fastened bolts into the blocks of the retaining walls to contain the damage.
The bridge was constructed at a cost of ₹110 crore; and (right) the contractor has fastened bolts into the blocks of the retaining walls to contain the damage.(HT Photo)
         

The retaining walls of the bridge constructed over the Sutlej river in Rupnagar four years ago has developed cracks, prompting the Punjab government to order a safety audit by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee, in a development that has come as a huge embarrassment to the public works department (PWD).

The retaining walls of the approach road of the bridge were not only displaced by 100-150mm, but a portion of the metalled road has also caved in, found a PWD quality control wing team led by chief engineer (quality control) cum-chief vigilance officer Mukesh Kumar Goyal.

The displacement should be 0-20 mm as per the codal provisions, the probe report says. The construction of the 1.75km-long bridge cost nearly ₹110 crore.

The government took the decision after the quality control wing raised serious questions about the role of the officials who monitored the construction work on the bridge built by a private firm, SP Singla Constructions.

“The bridge was built just four years ago and the depression in its retaining walls shows that the work was carried out by the officers/employees in a casual and negligence manner,” the probe report says.

The report was submitted to PWD secretary Hussan Lal last month following suo moto cognisance by the Punjab Human Rights Commission on the basis of a news report in a newspaper. The probe team found that after displacement of retaining walls, the contractor tried to contain the damage by fastening bolts into the blocks of the retaining walls.

“The contractor had taken permission to fasten bolts into blocks at only three points, but during inspection it was found that the same was done at a number of points, which means that retaining walls have been displaced on the both sides,” the report said.

It was after this report that the PWD secretary constituted a committee led by adviser (technical) to the state government to get a safety audit of the bridge done by an ‘organisation of repute’.

According to PWD officials, a team of IIT Roorkee conducted an inspection of the bridge in the second week of this month. The report in this regard is awaited.

Some residents of the adjacent villages said the retaining walls had displaced by nearly 1 foot but they were rectified by the company through fastening of bolts. Also, villagers under the banner of the Log Jagao Manch have also put banners along the retaining walls appealing the public to be careful while travelling on the bridge.

“The PWD officials have closed the slip road along the wall leading to the IIT Ropar campus, fearing that displacement of blocks might pose risk to people’s safety. But vehicles continue to ply on the bridge from Amritsar and Jalandhar to the Chandigarh side. If the wall poses risk on the slip road, how can the road over these walls be safe?” questioned Ranjit Singh, a member of the manch.

PWD secretary Hussan Lal said the department was waiting for the findings of the IIT Roorkee and will take action, if required, against those responsible.

“Our first priority is to get the safety audit of the project done. We are serious about probing the negligence, if s any,” he said.

First Published: Aug 27, 2019 01:08 IST

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