Fresh bridge collapse in West Bengal, one injured

bridge collapse west bengal pti A truck struck in between as an old bridge collapses leaving the truck driver injured, near Siliguri on Friday | PTI

An old bridge collapsed near Siliguri in north Bengal on Friday, leaving a truck driver injured, a state minister said.

This is the second incident of bridge collapse in West Bengal in three days. The Majerhat bridge had collapsed in south Kolkata on September 4, killing three persons and injuring 24.

The middle part of the bridge collapsed on a canal below at around 9.30 am when a truck was crossing it and the vehicle was stuck in the broken portion, officials said.

The bridge connects the Manganj and Phansidewa areas to Siliguri, a major city in north Bengal. Phansidewa is around 22 kms from Siliguri.

"Let the matter be inquired into," Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi told reporters in Kolkata when asked about the back-to-back collapse of the Majerhat bridge and the one today.

North Bengal Development Minister Rabindranath Ghosh said movement of loaded trucks was banned on the bridge but many such vehicles bound for the north-eastern states continued to take it. "This incident is a result of that," he added.

Ghosh also said the bridge was constructed long ago and its papers were not available.

The repair work of the structure would be undertaken after the PWD prepared a report, he added.

State Tourism Minister Gautam Deb said the bridge was maintained by the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad (a sub-divisional body), run by the CPI(M)-led Left Front. "I will report to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee," he added.

Engineers and state government officials have rushed to the spot.

Speaking to reporters in Kolkata, West Bengal CPI(M) state secretary Surya Kanta Mishra asked the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) in the state to "stop blaming others" for the collapse of the old bridges and instead, take steps for their repair and maintenance.

"The Left Front, during its 34-year regime, constructed a lot of bridges and flyovers. Now, it is the duty of those who are in power to maintain and repair the bridges. Blaming others will not serve any purpose. The TMC is blaming others to divert attention from its failure," he said.

Senior CPI(M) leader of Darjeeling district Jibesh Sarkar accused the TMC government and the district administration of ignoring repeated pleas to repair the bridge.

"We had informed the state and the local administration that it needed to be repaired. But as it is a Left-run mahakuma parishad, funds were not released by the government," he told PTI.

An under-construction flyover had collapsed at Phansidewa on August 11, but there was no casualty.

The chief minister had on Thursday said a nationwide survey of bridges should be undertaken.

There were 20 bridges in and around Kolkata, which had gone past their expiry dates, she had said.