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Western Odisha Lifeline Udanti River Bridge Collapses

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Bridges on Biju Expressway endangered due to faulty construction. But Guilty Works Department officials go unpunished.

BHUBANESWAR: Glaring irregularities by top officials of the Odisha Works Department have come to the fore in two newly constructed down -stream and up-stream bridges on river Udanti at chainage 87/860 on the Biju Expressway in Nuapada district of Odisha.  

It has come to light that there is fracture in the pile-caps of pierP3  in the new bridge in on the downstream side and pier p4 in the new bridge on the upstream side. This has led to the two bridges subsiding due to which the vehicular movement on the stretch have come to a griding halt on the Biju Expressway which is the lifeline of western Odisha.

Following the development, the Engineer in Chief (EIC) and Chief Engineer (Roads) Manoranjan Mishra, who was in charge then roped in a consultant for an inquiry.

The consultant in its report mentioning the probable reason on why the pile caps fractured said the designer should not have a pile directly under the massively rigid body of the pier because the flow of the load from the pier body obviously will go majorly and directly into the particular pile.

Based on these old subsoil investigation results, the pile strengths under the pile caps of 3 and 4 were discovered to be only 8m each. It should have been immediately realised that the pile strength was insufficient. Such pile strengths are not heard for rivers. Such pile strengths are generally adopted for buildings in ground not for bridge foundation in poor soils in river.

Besides, the piles were rested in and on the sub-strata purported to be soft rock but with zero RQD., low core recovery and of doubtful average uni-axial compressive strength of 5,62N/mm2 under the piles of P3 and P4.The later seems doubtful.   It was also surprising that the GADs, each dated 1/02/22 have not been signed by the Chief Construction Engineer, the report stated.

After seeing how these two new bridges have been constructed at the site with an older bridge at the site (built in 1992) merrily tucked close by in between the two new bridges. The proof consultant should have verified inadequate subsoil investigations reports, inadequately fixed pile strengths while finalising the GAD before the construction of the two new bridges, the report further stated.

The intellectuals have demanded despite the glaring irregularities and corruption in the construction of two bridges worth crores of rupees on which lakhs of people of Western Odisha are dependent, no action has been taken by the Odisha Government against the guilty officials including the Chief Engineer Roads and team for their criminal neglect and endangering life of the people.   

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