The Financial Express

Century-old Teesta railway bridge turns risky

| Updated: April 13, 2021 18:54:22

A combination photo of the century-old Teesta Railway Bridge (left) and a train moving through the risky bridge in Lalmonirhat — FE A combination photo of the century-old Teesta Railway Bridge (left) and a train moving through the risky bridge in Lalmonirhat — FE

The century- old Teesta railway bridge over Teesta River at Kawnia -Teesta point has already expired its life time and become vulnerable for train communication. Everyday fourintercity, four mail and six local trains make up and down through this bridge. Some local train services have recently been suspended due to covid pandemicsituation. Once it was the only gateway of two northern districts Lalmonirhat and Kurigram.

According to the sources, it was built during the British regime in 1899 year. About 2100 feet long bridge was constructed with an expected lifespan of hundred years which has already expired. It was constructed only for rail communications. During the war of liberation the Pakistani military damaged one guarder at southern part of the bridge by bombing to disconnect communication while they were fleeing from Lalmonirhat.

Thousands of non Bengali people (Biharis) were living in Lalmonirhat that time. Most of them were railway employees. Just before the freedom the non Bengali people and Pak army fled from the town by train. After independence the broken guarder was reconstructed and made it fit for communication.

In 1978 the then President inaugurated the bridge for vehicles movement after replacing wooden slipper on the bridge. Everyday hundreds of vehicles including heavy trucks and stone loaded 10 wheelers used to move through this bridge. As a result, the bridge becomes vulnerable for smooth communication.

Locals alleged that the bridge was seriously affected by stone carrying trucks. As there was no alternative road thousands of heavy trucks used to ply through this time expired bridge every day.

In 2019 the Railway minister visited the bridge and said that an alternative dual gauge bridge will be constructed beside the old one for future connectivity with Shiliguri.But no steps have been taken so far in this regard.

Makhon Lal Das (68), a local elite and a social worker of Teesta bazar area said, "The bridge is witness of history.From my child hood we the people of this two districts use the bridge to communicate with other parts of the country. There are so many child memories with the bridge. The bridge still exists and visible as it was built by the British ruler. He said that when Pak Army destroyed the pillar of the southern part of the bridge we went to visit the spot after independence.I saw lots of lead surrounding the pillar was stolen away. Huge quantity of lead was used in the middle of the pillar when built", he said. He demanded building a new duel gauze bridge immediately.

After newly constructed Teesta Road Bridge only train moves through this bridge, Gaffer Ali a small vendor of the area said. Many visitors and outsiders, students come to the bridge site to enjoy their evening leisure time. If an amusement park and picnic spot are built here that will be very fine also, he added.

When contacted, the Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) Sha Sufi Nur Mohammed, Lalmonirhat railway division told the FE that though the life time of the Bridge expired but it is not risky for train movement. We always repair it and keep it fit for easy movement. Another railway duel gauze bridge will be constructed in future, he expressed his hope. Thisis under consideration and at the stage of feasibility study under a project, he added.

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