Sharmili Mallick

Bolangir: Two labourers engaged in the repair of a bridge over Suktel River in Patnagarh block of Bolangir district were killed after the structure collapsed today morning.

Officials of district administration and local police have launched a rescue and search operation on the spot apprehending that some others might also be trapped inside the debris.

The collapse of the bridge has brought communication between Tamia and Mudalsar areas to a grinding halt.

It may be noted that after an OTV report which had showed how one of the pillars of the bridge caved in causing cracks on the bridge, the concerned authorities had roped in some workers for repair work at the site. However, despite the fissures, the bridge was opened for public movement.

OTV had reported that the cement plaster of the bridge, connecting Tamia and Mudalsar, was seen peeling out at several places while iron rod frames developing corrosion.

Worth mentioning, the foundation stone of the bridge was laid in January 7, 2014 and Ram Kumar Agarwal Engineers Private Limited had taken up the project. Constructed at an estimated cost of nearly Rs 7 crore, the construction of the bridge was completed in July 3, 2015 against the deadline on February 2016.

The construction company was also awarded for completing the construction works of the bridge in record time and maintaining the quality.

After the cracks in the bridge came to the fore, office of the engineer in chief (rural works), Bhubaneswar on February 29 had issued a letter informing appointment of three officials to inspect the bridge. Subsequently, a high-level technical team from Delhi had inspected the bridge and found fault in the design and construction works.

However, executive engineer Antuni Kishan denied any substandard work in the construction of the bridge and informed that the concerned contractor will repair the bridge within one and a half months.