Plagued by flash floods, the Rongthongchhu and Bamridrangchhu spans will be completed this year

Bridge: Two bridges, one at Rongthong, and the other at Bamri, will now be completed this year after a delay of more than a year.

The two bridges were supposed to have been completed by March last year.

The Rongthongchhu bridge is now expected to be completed by March, and the Bamridrangchhu one by the end of this year.

After project DANTAK awarded the contract to an Indian government contractor, M/S Mohan Bajaj, work commenced on both bridges in 2009.

The project manager, Gopal Yadav, said the design for Rongthongchu bridge was disapproved by project DANTAK in 2009, following which they had to redesign it, which took seven months.

“While carrying out survey, we encountered a hard rock that would increase the height of an avertment on one side. The design had to be changed,” he said.

Recurrent floods during the rainy season, coupled with frequent strikes in Assam, further affected the construction of these bridges.

“The first flash flood in 2010 stopped work at Bamridrangchhu bridge for almost four months,” he said. “We were carrying out the foundation works, when the flash flood resulted in the base being filled with soil up to 6m from one side.”

In 2012, when the concreting works were underway, the bridge was again hit by another flood that washed away a major portion of the foundation.

“The steel fixing we’d carried out had all been damaged and we had to redo the foundation works. We lost about five months there,” he said. “We couldn’t work during the rainy seasons, with the water level rising and chances of flash floods remaining very high,” he said.

Because materials have to be procured from Meghalaya and Kolkata, the project manager added that frequent Assam strikes further delayed the constructions.

“At times, our trucks are stranded for weeks because of strikes,” he said.

Only the abutments of Bamridrangchhu have been erected so far, while Ronthongchhu bridge is undergoing staging works, where shuttering plates are being laid.

Observers claimed the construction has been suspended for over a year now and the site has remained abandoned.

“It won’t take long for Bamridrangchu bridge since we need to work on the super structure only. The materials are already here. We’ll continue the works after we complete Rongthongchhu bridge in March,” he said. “But, we’ll be able to start by August only. We have to wait for the rainy season to pass.”

Residents of Rongthong said that, even if the bridge is completed, chances of it getting washed away by flash floods is very high.

“In the early 2000s, project DANTAK had constructed a similar bridge ,only to be washed (away) by a flash flood a few months later,” a resident, Sangay Dorji said.

Currently, vehicles use the existing bailey bridges to cross the two rivers.

By Tshering Wangdi, Trashigang