Edit/Op-Ed

Gopalgunj Bridge Falls in 29 Days after Inauguration; 8 years of labour, Rs 263 Crores go down the Drain!

The Sattarghat Bridge in Gopalgunj on the River Gandak collapsed in Bihar on Thursday sending 8 years of labour and Rs. 263 Crores down the drain. This was just 29 days after the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar inaugurated the bridge with much fanfare. The Janata Dal (United) and Nitish Kumar were planning to showcase the bridge as a sign of ‘development’ and tom tom it during the elections to the Bihar Legislative Assembly. But nothing seems to be going Nitish Kumar’s way – return of the migrant labourers issue, spiraling Coronavirus cases, Patna lockdown and now the bridge collapse.

The bridge collapse is a damning indictment of the political and bureaucratic corruption. It is also a glaring example of red tape that the bridge took 8 years for completion. Why blame the cement and the sand? Blame those who used that cement and the sand. It is the people’s money. Why would the politicians care? There will be new allotment of funds, the pretense of tenders but the blunders will continue to be repeated fall after fall.

  The bridge was built by the Bihar Rajya Pul Nirman Nigam Ltd at a cost of Rs 263 crore. The culvert connecting the approach road to the bridge was unable to withstand the pressure caused by the rising levels of the river and was washed away after water was released from Valmiki Nagar, according to officials. Keeping in mind this terrible loss, how can Nitish Kumar connect with the voters to renew his mandate?

It was found that the culvert had already been eroding after rains in the region over the last couple of days that has caused the river to swell. The bridge collapse has led to severe traffic disruption, with several areas being cut off as this was the only major link between Gopalganj and East Champaran. Will the opposition sense it as an opportunity to drown the JD (U) – BJP combine under the flowing waters of Gandak?

The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav and Bihar Congress chief Madan Mohan Jha have sharpened the attack on Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on the bridge collapse issue. “The Sattarghat bridge of Gopalganj built at a cost of Rs 263.47 crore in 8 years, was inaugurated by Nitish Ji on June 16. Today, 29 days later the bridge collapsed. Beware! If someone terms it corruption by Nitish ji. Rs 263 crore is for just a glimpse. Even their rats consume alcohol worth this amount,” the youthful Tejashwi Yadav tweeted in Hindi. Bihar Congress president Dr Madan Mohan Jha also posted in Hindi: “The inauguration of the bridge constructed at a cost of Rs 263.47 crore on June 16 and its destruction on July 15. Now do not accuse the poor rat for this.”

So, the rat and cat or the cat and mouse game as you would call it continues in Bihar. In 2017, a minister in Nitish Kumar’s cabinet had blamed rats for making holes in the embankments, weakening structures and allowing river water breach through them, thus, resulting in floods in Bihar. Poor rats may be cursing their luck that they were born under Nitish Kumar’s rule!

After the debacle in the coming Assembly elections, the JD (U) – BJP combine would do well to blame the rats again that the rats entered the electronic voting machines (EVMs) and pressed the buttons for the opposition parties.

Politicians, bureaucrats continue to become fat!

But in a blame game, by its tail, they hold the rat!

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