Fact-check: Was the bridge that collapsed in Bihar part of Rs 264 crore Sattarghat project?

On July 16, the country woke up to the news of Sattarghat bridge in Bihar collapsing a month after it was inaugurated. Flooding in Gandak river damaged the bridge reportedly built over a span of eight years at a cost of Rs 264 crore. The bridge was inaugurated by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar through a video conference on June 16.

Almost every media outlet carried the same news — water flow increased due to heavy rains, causing a part of Sattarghat bridge to collapse.

Tejaswi Yadav, leader of opposition in Bihar, tweeted a video of the bridge collapsing and targetted Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. He wrote, “On June 16, Nitish ji inaugurated Sattarghat bridge of Gopalganj, built at a cost of 263.47 crore in 8 years. This bridge collapsed 29 days later.”

Fact-check

This fact-check will look at two aspects — First, media reports claiming that Sattarghat bridge, which was completed a month ago, collapsed. Second, the Bihar government’s claim that the news is false and the Sattarghat bridge is completely safe. The government claims that the bridge which collapsed is situated 2 km away and is part of an approach road of a different 18-metre bridge.

1. Did Sattarghat bridge collapse?

Bihar’s Information and Public Relations Department tweeted that the media is running false news that Sattarghat bridge collapsed. A notice issued by the Road Construction Department stated, “The access path of a small bridge of 18 metres in length towards Gopalganj, about 2 km from the Sattarghat main bridge, was damaged.”

It was further informed, “This has happened due to water pressure. There is no loss in the structure of the small bridge due to this erosion. The main Sattarghat bridge which is 1.4 km long is completely safe.”

Bihar’s Road Construction Minister Nand Kishore Yadav shared a video on his Facebook page and Twitter handle, saying that the news that Sattarghat bridge was damaged is false. He tweeted a video from one end of the 1.4-km-long Sattarghat bridge which does not show any damage.

Yadav further stated in two other tweets that the pressure of water in the Gandak river is more towards Gopalganj. Due to this, a portion of the access road of the bridge collapsed.

We spoke to a local journalist who informed that there has been no damage to Sattarghat bridge. “The approach road which is at some distance from the bridge has sunk. It’s called Ram Janaki Bridge and comes 1 km before Sattarghat bridge. This road, the smaller bridge and Sattarghat bridge were built simultaneously by the same company for Rs 264 crore. It is not the bridge but the approach road that has sunk.”

2. The part that collapsed 

Additional Chief Secretary of Road Construction Department Amrit Lal Meena claimed in a video statement that the access path of a small bridge of 18-metre length was damaged towards Gopalganj, about 2 km from the Sattarghat main bridge. This small bridge is located inside the dam of the Gandak River. This video statement was posted on the Facebook handle of the Information and Public Relations Department.

सत्तरघाट पुल क्षतिग्रस्त

अमृत लाल मीणा,अपर मुख्य सचिव, पथ निर्माण विभाग ने सत्तरघाट पुल क्षतिग्रस्त होने की खबर का खंडन करते हुए कहा कि यह खबर बिल्कुल झूठी और भ्रामक है। सत्तरघाट पुल पूरी तरह सुरक्षित है। गोपालगंज छोर की ओर तीन छोटे-छोटे पुल बनाये गये हैं पानी के तेज बहाव के कारण सबसे अंतिम पुल का एप्रोच पथ कट गया है।

Posted by Information & Public Relations Department, Government of Bihar on Thursday, 16 July 2020

Meena further said in the video that the distance between the two embankments of the Gandak river is about 9 km. The 1.4-km-long Sattarghat bridge has been built on its mainstream and three small 18-metre bridges have been built towards the Gopalganj end. The access path of the last bridge broke due to heavy rains in the command area of ​​Gandak and consequently more water discharge in Gandak.

As per the information on the website of Bihar State Bridge Construction Corporation, besides the 1.4 km long Sattarghat bridge, 9 km of the surrounding road is also part of this project which was completed in the last eight years. The name of this project is ‘Construction of H.L. P.S.C cast in situ bridge over river Gandak in between Sattarghat and Faizullahpur in District Motihari (Bihar)’.

According to the Bihar government’s project report of July 2019, construction of 72% of the approach road was ready by then. The recently damaged 18-metre bridge is a part of this project.

http://brpnn.bih.nic.in/

According to a local news channel, the damaged bridge is called Ram Janaki Pul. The channel also spoke with locals who said that the bridge was inaugurated by the Chief Minister one month ago. They can be heard saying that this route used to go to Lala Chappra and the connection is now lost. The map attached earlier in the report shows that the road leading to Lala Chappra is also a part of this project.

Therefore, a part of the small bridge connecting Chhapra and Sattarghat main roads in Baikunthpur’s Faizullapur, Gopalganj district has fallen. Several media outlets reported that Sattarghat bridge collapsed. It is noteworthy that this 18-metre small bridge was constructed as part of the Rs 264 crore Sattarghat bridge project and inaugurated by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on June 16.

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