Thursday, June 22, 2023

Replacement of the 161 year old Koilwar rail bridge on Sone river sanctioned by Railway Board to prevent disaster

East Central Railway responds to concerns raised by Advocate Dr. Gopal Krishna

Vinod Kumar, Deputy Chief Engineer, Office of the General Manager (Engineering), East Central Railway has informed Advocate Dr. Gopal Krishna on 20 June that the work has been sanctioned to replace the old bridge on Sone river with a new one, instrumentation of Koilwar bridge and metalization of corrosion-prone road deck by the end of financial year 2024 to prevent catastrophic consequences. He informed Dr. Krishna in response to his letter to Union Minister of Railways dated 6 June 2023 on the subject of structural safety and vulnerability of old railway bridges like 161 year old Koilwar bridge on Sone river. These steps are being taken in the aftermath of assurance given by the Ministry of Railways to him in July 2015.


The reply of East Central Railway dated 20/06/2023 states that for ensuring safety and security of the bridges, established practice of inspection of bridge and maintenance activities are being planned to keep the bridge in sound condition. It also staes that the painting of the entire bridge's steel girders was completed in 2022.


In his reply to the East Central Railway dated 21/06/2023, Advocate Dr. Krishna has suggested that the replacement of the steel girders may make the bridge safer because painting alone may not be effective. He informed East Central Railway that he has visited the site of the rail bridge along with reporters of national news channels and newspapers to ascertain the current status of the bridge at the top and at the bottom. It was noticed that the cement pavements built in the Sone river bed to provide support to all the pillars of the rail bridge were totally broken and strewn around. It was also noticed that the tracks and iron sheets between the tracks were in a rusted condition. This has been recorded and shown on the TV channels as well. He has sought classification of Koilwar rail bridge for special attention because it is one of the weakest and oldest bridges in India that is getting further weakened because of loss of strength of its foundation pillars due to unabated sand mining in the vicinity of the bridge. It is likely to be a cause of serious train disaster given the fact that massive sand mining is underway in this stretch. He has suggested that the vulnerability of the old rail bridge at Koilwar on Sone river cannot be addressed without addressing the indiscriminate and rampant sand mining in the area by sand miners from four states. The sand mining in this region is indefensible and unscientific. A high powered committee ought to be constituted to undertake cumulative impact assessment of sand mining related vulnerability of the rail bridge and to take immediate preventive steps. It is crying for very urgent intervention to prevent disaster in near future. He has sought inspection of the site for necessary action by the East Central Railway.       


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