Railway overbridge on NH 2 at Panagarh under collapse threat

A startling revelation by a team of railway engineer’s has sent shock waves to many of the daily commuters who ply between Durgapur and Kolkata through NH 2. The railway overbridge on the Calcutta-Delhi NH2 at Panagarh near Durgapur has developed multiple cracks and is in need of immediate repairs, railway engineers have said in the report. Over a lakh vehicles used the overbridge every day.

Cracks at Railway overbridge in Panagarh

The revelation comes less than a month of the collapse of a portion of the VIP Road flyover within two years of its inauguration. Lack of proper inspection and maintenance is seen as the primary cause of the fall. However, the matter is still under scrutiny and probe.
According to sources, an inspection carried out in Panagarh last month by a team of civil and mechanical engineers from the divisional railway authority in Asansol suggested that one of the overbridge’s 10 bearings, which support the weight of the structure, needed to be “replaced immediately”. The bearing has become “non-functional”, a railway engineer said.
The report has been submitted to senior divisional engineer (bridge and sliding) Omprakash Kumar in Asansol. “We have to immediately replace one of the bearings of the bridge and repair the girders (beams). The railways have sanctioned Rs 1 crore and we will float tenders soon,” Kumar said.
A railway engineer said the overbridge had elastomeric bearings — rubberised plates fitted between girders and pillars. If they become weak, he said, the weight is transferred to the pillars, which could lead to a collapse. The overbridge has four pillars. A senior railway engineer in Asansol said the bearings had to be repaired within eight years of the bridge’s inauguration. But almost 23 years have passed and the matter of repair, maintenance and inspection has been completely ignored.
Railway officials in Asansol said the repairs would take around four months, during which the bridge would have to be closed. The 3.2km single-lane highway stretch in Panagarh witnesses regular traffic snarls and is already a cause of concern for the daily commuters plying between Kolkata and Durgapur-Asansol. A project to build a 12 Km bypass has been in the pipeline for years, but work could not proceed because of an impasse over land acquisition and compensation.
Highway officials said if the overbridge was closed, the traffic situation would worsen. Ajay Ahluwalia, the chief general manager (technical) of NHAI in the eastern region, said he was yet to receive any letter from the railways regarding the repairs.
Commuters who uses the bridge knows very well how badly the bridge is riddled with cracks and potholes. The bridge condition seems to symbolize how much concerned the government and its agencies are about the safety aspect of its people!!. If something is not done immediately, any major accident may occur any day. After this revelation, all the other bridges must also be put under scanner.

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