The Rs 1,710-crore Aguani-Sultanganj four-lane under-construction bridge across River Ganga, a part of which collapsed in Bhagalpur on Sunday, will be rebuilt by the construction company, SP Singla, at their own cost, Bihar’s deputy chief minister and road construction minister Tejashwi Yadav announced on Tuesday.
Speaking to the media in Patna, Yadav said, “I raised this issue when I was the leader of the opposition. I had doubts about the quality of the bridge after the report by Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee. The bridge will be constructed afresh. The contractor will pay for the construction. After the review in November-December, clear instructions were given to stop work.”
When asked about the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) demand for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe, Yadav said, “We have nothing to do with what the opponents say. Everything will be clear in the investigation. Are CBI officers engineers?”
The Chief Minister’s Office (CMO), meanwhile, has sent a notice to Naveen Saxena, MD of Bihar Pul Nirman Nigam (BPNNL), asking him to respond within 15 days. The government has also suspended an engineer from the BPNNL.
IIT-Roorkee’s team will visit the site on Tuesday and submit an investigation report. Officers from different departments have been sent to the collapse site.
MLA’s WARNING NEGLECTED, CONCERNS OVER ‘NEXUS’
CNN-News18 had carried an exclusive report on how the ruling Janata Dal (United) MLA from Khagaria Dr Sanjeev Kumar alleged a nexus between government officials and the construction firm and had also questioned the integrity of road construction additional chief secretary Pratyaya Amrit.
In a video clip from the Bihar Assembly in March, Sanjeev Kumar was seen raising the issue of defects in the pillars of the bridge. He said, “I had shown the photos of cracks on the newly built pillars to the principle secretary. The report of IIT Roorkee is still not submitted and I am afraid that the incident of April 2022 will recur. I request the minister (Tejashwi Yadav) to look into the matter and take action as early as possible”
Replying to the MLA, Yadav had then said, “I assure that the said pillars will be dismantled to avoid collapse again and action will be taken against the corrupt officers. Loss of money will not happen as the government is looking into the matter seriously.”
But the discussion ended there itself. The same bridge collapsed on Sunday and project fell like the house of cards in the Ganges.
‘TEJASHWI YADAV SHOULD RESIGN’
Taking note of Sanjeev Kumar’s demand for judicial probe into the alleged corruption, BJP’s former road construction minister and MLA Nitin Nabin said, “CM Nitish Kumar should take responsibility and Yadav should resign because he knew about the defects. Still, the bridge was not dismantled. It was fortunate that as it was a Sunday, there were no labourers, else many lives would have been lost. There should be a judicial inquiry into this incident and corrupt officers should be booked.”
PIL IN PATNA HIGH COURT
On Monday, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the Patna High Court regarding the Bihar bridge collapse, demanding an independent investigation instead of a departmental inquiry into the matter. There is also a demand to blacklist SP Singla Company. The petition alleges loss of crores to the exchequer and demands recovery from those responsible, including SP Singla.
Former minister and BJP MLA Neeraj Kumar Bablu told CNN-News18 on Tuesday, “Since 2005, Singla Company is working on so many mega projects. All projects should be scrutinised. Probe should be done to figure out the connection of the company with netas and government officers. The bridge collapsed because of the nexus of corrupt officers and politicians. This is a huge scam. All money should be recovered from them and corrupt officers must be booked, failing which we will protest across Bihar.”