Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bihar's Mahatma Gandhi Setu on Maoists hit list?

The five kilometers long Mahatma Gandhi Setu (bridge), one of Asia's longest bridge, linking Patna and north Bihar is reportedly on Maoists' list for sabotage.

Naxal outfits, according to intelligence reports, have threatened to destroy it.

This cantilever bridge built by Gammon India with pre-stressed technology has earlier been in the news, but for wrong reasons.

In 1982, it was in the news after it was 'formally opened' even before the road was properly laid and other structures tested.

For the last 25 years, the bridge has served as a vital link to north Bihar and also to Nepal. Heavy traffic has subjected the bridge to heavy wear and tear.

The 5,450 meters long bridge having 40 piers now threatens to snap. Cracks have developed on some of its pillars.

The new threat, however, is not only due to wear and tear, also from Naxal groups, who want to destroy this vital link.

"We have been intimated by our officials of the latest threat. We keep on patrolling day and night and make sure that the bridge is safe," said Shankar Prasad, sub-inspector with the Bridge Police Station in Vaishali District.

The security personnel are confident that the Maoists will not be able to do any damage.

"Yes, I have been deployed here to keep a vigil on the bridge. We remain alert all the time. Moreover, there is constant police patrolling," said Mahesh Singh, a guard at the check post.

The locals, however, say that the Maoists will do a big harm to the general pubic by destroying the bridge, which is an important part of their lives.

"It is really sad to learn that the Maoists are now eyeing the bridge which has been a great help to the local people. This should not be done. If they have any issues with the Government, they should sort it out with the authorities. Why to target the public. People have not disturbed them, then why harm them," asked Manoj Kumar, a commuter.

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