Ongoing reconstruction work on the 400-feet (122 metre) bailey suspension bridge over Amochhu at Pultar in Denchukha, Samtse is suspended since May 14.

A problem related to the connector on an anchor block had occurred and launching works have been halted. A worker of the constructing firm M/s Ramaa Engineering also suffered injuries and was admitted to a hospital in Siliguri.

With the temporary motor bridge uninstalled, people currently use the old foot bridge of Pultar to cross Amochhu. Loads are carried on their backs.

Denchukha gup Chandraman Bhandari said it takes about an hour on foot to reach Denchukha with load. “This suspension bailey bridge is very important for the gewog,” he said.

Chandraman Bhandari said the gewog administration had to return most of the development budget, as many projects did not materialise without a proper bridge. It was not possible to transport heavy machineries across the river, he added.

The gup said machine owners ask charges beyond quoted prices to drop materials at the gewog centre. Today, irrigation pipes are still kept on the Dorokha side of the river.

Chandraman Bhandari said DoR and Ramaa Engineering would restart the work in 25 days.

There are 582 households in Denchukha with a population of about 4,244. There are about 40 private boleros. Without the bridge, costs of goods escalate by more than four times.

DoR’s executive engineer EN Chhetri from Phuentsholing regional office said the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), the materials supplier in Kolkatta, India, was informed immediately about the problem.

“Our chief engineer from head office is currently in Kolkata to follow up,” he said, adding that the bridge is stable.

“It is not a major problem and work will resume soon.”

For safety purposes, a team from GRSE is also expected to come and inspect the materials at Pultar. GRSE is the only certified and authorised dealer of the bailey suspension bridge in India.

Meanwhile, work for this bridge commenced in November 2012. After the work was completed in March 2015, the launching work was awarded.

In July 2016, the bridge cable had snapped and labourers had fallen into the river. Seven labourers died.

Pultar bridge is also the longest bailey suspension bridge in the country and requires special skills in launching it. As there were no in-house capacities to launch such bridge, DoR had awarded the launching work to M/s Ramaa Engineering, Kolkatta at Nu 2.825M through limited bidding.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing