The collapse of an under-construction bridge in Bihar's Bhagalpur has sparked a war of words between the state government and the opposition BJP. Soon after the four-lane bridge came crashing down like a house of cards yesterday evening, Bihar government told media that the structure had "serious defects" and portions were being deliberately destroyed in a planned fashion.
"It may be recalled that a portion of this bridge had collapsed on April 30 last year. We had, thereafter, approached IIT-Roorkee, which is esteemed for its expertise in construction matters, to conduct a study. It is yet to come up with a final report but experts who had studied the structure had informed us that there were serious defects," Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav said at the press conference.
A government official, during the press conference, said that they decided not to take any chance and went ahead with pulling down parts of the bridge.
The bridge was said to have involved an estimated cost of Rs 1,700 crore.
The government has ordered an inquiry into Sunday's incident and said strict action should be taken against the erring officials.
Mr Yadav said that "many structural defects have been pointed out by experts and we have already pulled down many portions which have been flagged as particularly vulnerable. Today's incident confirms our worst apprehensions".
A guard working near the bridge has gone missing, and rescue officials are trying to trace him.
"After the bridge collapse, a person working as a guard with SP Singla Company is said to be missing. His body has not been recovered yet. Search by SDRF and NDRF teams is underway to trace him," says Chandan Kumar, Circle Officer, Parbatta, Bihar.
Meanwhile, state BJP president Samrat Choudhary has demanded the resignation of Nitish Kumar, who had snapped ties with the saffron party in August last year.
Fellow BJP leader Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, a former Bhagalpur MP, also came out with a statement blaming the mishap on "corruption" and demanding a "high-level inquiry" into the incident.