A 66-foot deck of a bridge in south Kolkata collapsed on Tuesday evening, snuffing out one life, trapping several people and crushing many vehicles. The bridge is over 40 years old. Biker Soumen Bag, who happened to be crossing the bridge, died after he fell headlong into the wedge as the deck split into two.
BRIDGE AFTER BRIDGE:
This is the second major bridge collapse this year after Varanasi in which 18 people lost their lives and the fifth big one in the last two years In 2016, an under-construction flyover had collapsed on Vivekananda Road in Kolkata killing 27 people. In the same year, 22 people died when a British-era bridge on the Mumbai-Goa highway collapsed.
HEALTH OF BRIDGES:
Warning bells for the Majerhat bridge were first raised in 2015 but went unheeded. And it's not the only one. A government survey of 1.62 lakh bridges released in 2017 found 23 on national highways were over 100 years old, 147 required immediate attention and 6,000 were structurally distressed.
The issue is that bridges have a shelf life and require regular monitoring, audit and maintenance. But this critical aspect has been ignored by authorities - it's not been as high on priority as the tenders for new bridges.