ARARIA: A 183-metre-long bridge expected to be opened to traffic soon collapsed in eastern Bihar’s Araria district on Tuesday, the seventh incident of a bridge collapse in the state since 2023 and the second this year.

Rural works department executive engineer Ashutosh Kumar said frequent changes in the course of the river contributed to the incident (HT Photo)

Araria district magistrate Inayat Khan said there were no casualties. “It was not operational as the approach road was not complete… Hence no casualty has been reported,” she told HT over the phone. Khan added that a technical team has been rushed to the site to establish the reason for the collapse.

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The 182.85-metre bridge was being built by the rural works department over the Bakra river near Parharia Ghat under the district’s Sikti block on the Araria-Kishanganj road. It was projected to cost 7.79 crore. The bridge would have reduced the distance between Araria and Kishanganj districts and made travel easier for people in the district’s Sikti and Kursakanta blocks.

Araria MP Pradeep Kumar Singh and MLA Vijay Mandal, both from the Bharatiya Janata Party, expressed shock over the incident. “This is total negligence on the part of the engineers and contractors,” said Singh. Mandal said the material used in the bridge’s construction was sub-standard and would have led to loss of lives if the bridge had been operational.

It was also alleged that local stakeholders had red-flagged the quality of construction but the concerns were dismissed.

Rural works department executive engineer Ashutosh Kumar said action will be taken against the contractor after an investigation.

Kumar said the frequent changes in the course of the river contributed to the incident. “Some days ago the locals had tried to change the course of the river between the two pillars of the bridge which may have caused the collapse.”

This is the seventh incident of bridge collapse since 2023 and the second this year. In March this year, an under-construction bridge over the Kosi river collapsed in Supaul district killing one worker and leaving 10 others injured.

In May last year, an under-construction bridge (20.1-metre-long) over Dumuhni River collapsed soon after concretization work on it in Purnea’s Baisi block. The following month, a span of a 100-metre under-construction bridge over Mechi River on NH-327 E between Galgalia in Kishanganj and Araria also collapsed.