DC orders probe into collapse of British-era Chakki rly bridge
Five-member panel headed by additional deputy commissioner formed to complete the probe in time-bound manner
AMRITSAR: Pathankot deputy commissioner Harbir Singh on Wednesday ordered a probe into the collapse of around a century-old British-era railway bridge over Chakki river connecting Pathankot in Punjab with Kangra in Himachal Pradesh, amid the talk that the bridge has collapsed due to illegal mining on the riverbed and “the government did not take measures to stop it”.
A sizable portion of the bridge on the heritage Pathankot-Jogindernagar narrow gauge rail route collapsed due to the gushing flood water earlier this week. Upstream areas of the river witnessed heavy rainfall and cloudburst that caused repeated flash floods. It washed away the bridge. The collapse happened weeks after it was declared unsafe by the railway authorities. Around two months ago, train service was suspended in view of the dilapidated condition of the bridge and upcoming rainy season.
To have a time-bound probe, the DC constituted a five-member panel which will be headed by additional deputy commissioner (ADC) Ankurjit Singh, who has a civil engineering degree from IIT Roorkee. Other members will be superintending engineers (SE) of PWD (B&R), National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and engineers of Punjab department of water resources. The panel has been asked to complete the probe in two week, said Harbir Singh, while speaking over phone.
Requesting anonymity, a senior official said that illegal mining was a minor factor. “Main factors behind the collapse are not being talked about. For example, the railways cast concrete below the bridge to strengthen the pillars caused a blockade for flow of water. As a result, water finds a way to flow from a small stretch below the bridge on the Punjab side. Consistent flow of water from that stretch weakened the pillars falling in this stretch and they could not face the force of the flash floods. The NHAI has pointed out this factor in its report sent to the railways,” he said.
He said, “A committee constituted by Punjab and Haryana high court six years ago also gave its observation about the bridge. It too stated that the water flowing on the Punjab side is resulting in creation of a gorge in the bed of the river and weakening the pillars of the bridge on this side.”
On August 2, the railway authorities declared the bridge near Pathankot unsafe and unfit for plying of trains on the track. On Tuesday, the railways issued a press release announcing that it has planned to restore the train service by repairing the heritage rail line, but after a few hours, it revoked the release stating revised version of the release will be issued in two days.