NHAI intensifies efforts to prevent damage to Chakki highway bridge
NHAI with the help of army has intensified its operation to prevent damage to Chakki highway bridge after the foundation of its two support pillars was exposed due to riverbed erosion in August 20 floods.
: The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) with the help of army has intensified its operation to prevent damage to the Chakki highway bridge after the foundation of its two support pillars was exposed due to riverbed erosion in August 20 floods.
The double-lane bridge over Chakki rivulet, a tributary of Beas, on Pathankot-Mandi Highway (NH 154) connecting Himachal with Punjab is currently closed for traffic amid fears that it may collapse if preventive measures are not taken.
Commuters travelling in public transport and personal cars have to take a 15-km detour to enter either state. Only two-wheelers are allowed to ply on the bridge.
The highway bridge runs parallel to the colonial-era railway bridge that was washed away in the flood. Illegal mining in the Chakki rivulet is said to be the main reason behind the damage to the bridges.
The Chakki bridge was earlier closed for traffic on August 20 but reopened on August 23 after the preliminary report of NHAI cited no damage to the bridge.
It, however, was closed again on August 24 after the NHAI wrote to the Kangra and Pathankot districts mentioning potential damage.
The NHAI in its report said that the Chakki rivulet after its course change was flowing through between pillar number 1 and 2 on the Punjab side posing a threat to the bridge.
The project director, NHAI, Palampur, Colonel Anil Sen said the riverbed has eroded near the pillars exposing their foundation beyond the permissible level.
He said machinery has been deployed since Monday and efforts have been intensified with the help of the army to change the course of the river away from Pillar 1 and 2 without causing damage to the bridge.
The bridge may remain closed for traffic for at least 10-12 days as it is a Herculean task to change the course of the river the flooding has a deep and wide ditch forming near the two pillars while the riverbed is elevated on the Himachal side.
Filling up the trench would not be easy given the fast flow of the water and there is also a forecast for heavy rains from August 28 onward.
The Kangra district administration has already ordered a magisterial probe into the collapse of the railway bridge. The probe is being headed by additional district magistrate Rohit Rathour and the report would come by the end of next week. The railway traffic on Pathankot-Jogindernagar narrow gauge track has come to a grinding halt and the Northern Railways is considering resuming the rail services on the unaffected track between Jaogindernagar and Jasur and Chakki Bank to Pathankot.