Puri, Jul 9:
Even as Union Road Transport and Highways minister Nitin Gadkari in Odisha dedicated the Bhubaneswar-Puri National Highway-203 bypass at Pipili this evening, officials are jittery after an under-construction railway over-bridge at Samajajpur and a portion of a road over bridge caved in on Wednesday morning.
A pond near the railway over-bridge has also caved in as its overflowing quagmire has dried up its water. Villagers of Samajajpur have also alleged that a concrete road connecting the National Highway to their village has also developed cracks under immense pressure of the railway over-bridge.
This incident, which took place three days after a huge crack appeared on the Bada Danda (Grand Road) in Puri, has put a big question mark on the quality of infrastructure work being undertaken for the ensuing Nabakalebara Rath Yatra which is just 10 days away.
“I am aware of the incident; the villagers have informed me about it. I had asked the officials of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to probe into the incident. Acting on my order, the NHAI Regional officer had sent two engineers to the spot. As per the reports of the two engineers, it was a natural process and would not pose any damage to the road,” Puri MLA and chairman of Nabakalebara Infrastructure Supervision Committee, Maheswar Mohanty, told ‘Sambad’.
When asked about the incident, the NHAI Regional Officer Lambodar Prasad Padhi said there is a pond under the ralway over-bridge with a huge mass of quagmire.
“Due to the pressure of the over-bridge, the quagmire of the pond has given way as a result of which some portions of the railway over-bridge and the left side of the service road have caved in. Besides, due to the pressure of the quagmire, cracks have appeared on the under-construction service road. The remaining part of the pond lying open beside the service road has caved in due to overflowing of the quagmire of the pond lying under the railway over-bridge,” he said.
He, however, said that the crack is at the place where concrete and the bitumen are joined.
“There is no problem in the movement of vehicles on the left side of the over-bridge. The over bridge would be made completely operational after filling up the right side of the bridge with sands. We will start construction of the right side of the over-bridge three months after the Nabakalabara Rath Yatra,” Padhi said.
He, however, admitted that cracks might appear on the left side of the bridge if the bitumen is laid on it. “The laying of bitumen on the over-bridge would begin after the Nabakalebara,” he informed.