30 Jun 2024

Is there a conspiracy behind spate of bridge collapses in Bihar? What Union Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi said?

Union Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi suspects a "conspiracy" behind the recent spate of bridge collapses in Bihar. Speaking to reporters in Gaya, Manjhi questioned the timing of these incidents. "Why have bridges started to collapse only after the Lok Sabha elections?" he pondered. "Why were such incidents not taking place 15 or 30 days before? Is there any conspiracy to defame the state government?"

In the last nine days, five bridges in Bihar have collapsed, located in the districts of Araria, Siwan, East Champaran, Kishanganj, and Madhubani. The most recent incident occurred on Friday, when an under-construction bridge in Madhubani, which had been built by the Rural Works Department since 2021, collapsed.

Those responsible for any wrongdoings would be held accountable

Manjhi, who is also the Minister of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME), assured that those responsible for any "wrongdoings" would be held accountable. "The state and central governments are closely monitoring such incidents. Contractors or engineers involved in malpractices will be penalized," he stated. He attributed the collapses to "sub-standard material used by contractors" and called for a probe into the possibility of a conspiracy.

The state government has faced severe criticism from the opposition due to these frequent bridge collapses. Leader of the Opposition in the Bihar Assembly, Tejashwi Yadav, criticized the Nitish Kumar government, remarking, "Due to the double power of the double-engine government in Bihar, only five bridges have collapsed in just nine days."

The collapse in Madhubani occurred a day after another bridge fell in Kishanganj. The third incident was in the Ghodasahan block of East Champaran on June 23. On June 22, a bridge over a canal connecting Daraunda and Maharajganj blocks in Siwan collapsed. Earlier, a bridge worth Rs 12 crore over the Bakra river in the Sikti block of Araria district collapsed on June 18.

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