Congress demands probe into Uttarakhand bridge collapse
Former chief minister Harish Rawat, who visited the collapse site on Sunday, blamed “rampant mining near the bridge” for the collapse while seeking the inquiry
Opposition Congress has demanded an independent inquiry into the collapse of a bridge on the Jakhan river along the Dehradun-Rishikesh highway that left five people dead on Friday.
Former chief minister Harish Rawat, who visited the collapse site on Sunday, blamed “rampant mining near the bridge” for the collapse while seeking the inquiry.
The bridge was built in 1964. On Friday, over 20-metre stretch of the bridge collapsed amid a heavy flow of water in the river due to incessant rain.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is trying to make inroads into the poll-bound state, on Wednesday staged a protest near public works department minister Satpal Maharaj’s office demanding his resignation over the collapse. It blamed the negligence of Maharaj’s ministry and illegal mining for it. On Tuesday, AAP’s chief ministerial candidate Ajay Kothiyal asked the government to allow him to “build an alternative bridge in 48 hours”.
AAP’s Uttarakhand chief, SS Kaler, said despite the 2013 Kedarnath tragedy, the government has not learnt any lessons. “The process of rehabilitating all people from disaster-affected areas should have been completed by now. What are they waiting for; more disasters claiming more lives? We will continuously highlight this issue and put pressure on the government to immediately shift such families to safer areas.”
Congress leader Suryakant Dhasmana said it was decided that people living in disaster-prone following the 2013 tragedy will be rehabilitated in safer areas. “There has been a lot of talk on rehabilitation of such people but most of the people in over 300 villages are yet to be rehabilitated. If such people are not rehabilitated, we will keep losing people to cloud bursts and landslides. We have demanded an independent inquiry into the collapse of the bridge.”
Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD) has warned if the state government does not rehabilitate these people, it will launch an agitation. Kashi Singh Airy, the UKD’s state president, said, “Despite such villages having been identified, the state government has not shifted the people living there.”
He said people in disaster-prone areas are dying. “Our first priority should be to save the lives of our people.”
Ruling Bhartiya Janata Party leader Devendra Bhasin said Congress, AAP and UKD have been silent for the last five years and have suddenly woken up. “The state government has been making all possible efforts to save lives of people in disaster-affected areas and has so far rehabilitated hundreds of families and the process is on.” He said chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visited Pithoragarh, spoke to disaster-affected people, and gave each ₹4 lakh cash relief. “He also directed officials to conduct a survey of the affected area by geologists to seek suggestions on measures that can be taken for ensuring the safety of people.”