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Last updated: July 29, 2002
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British-Government-Built-Phalgu-River-Road-Bridge Witness to Several Deaths
Gaya, 15 September (Dainik Jagran). The steel bridge built over the Phalgu river during the time of the British Government is in a run down condition. Due to administrative carelessness the bridge has witnessed several dozen deaths. Several political parties have been appealing to the administration for its appropriate maintenance and repairs. The administration is unaware of its state of disrepair. The administrations lack of awareness is such that the possibility of a major accident on the Phalgu river cannot be denied.
It is noteworthy that the the iron bridge over the Phalgu river was built during the period of British rule. The heavy girders of which the bridge is built have even today marked on them "made in England". The bridge not only joins together several blocks of Gaya district but also is the the main route that links together several districts of the state.
The bridge which was built many years ago is now in a very dilapidated state. In one incident when a heavily loaded truck was going over it its western end was damaged. Due to this the administration put into place a ban on heavy trucks going over the bridge. It is known that engineers in view of the state of the bridge limited the weight of trucks going over the bridge today to those built ten to fifteen years ago. However drivers make token payments to the traffic police and take their trucks across the bridge.
Due to the demands of politicians the district administration put barriers at the Eastern and Western ends of the bridge. Due to which the transit of heavy trucks has now just about ended. It is known that repairs to the dilapidated bridge have been done several times.But due to materials not being made available in relation to estimates in repair works in a matter of only months the state of the bridge returns to its former state. There are footpaths made on both sides of the Phalgu river bridge which from place to place in them have sleepers missing. In the northern footpath in places four sleepers in a single spot are missing. Due to this the passage of pedestrians over the bridge is not empty of danger. Due to this several dozen pedestrians have already fallen to their death in the Phalgu river. Due to their being no lighting on the bridge the passage of pedestrians at night is also not free from danger. Nor yet do some types of people of ill-repute desist from exploiting the lack of lighting and the isolation and they snatch the belongings of the travelers.
Several political parties and voluntary groups have been calling for the repair of the bridge, the changing of the damaged sleepers on the footpaths on both sides, the installation of adequate lighting the banning of the transit of heavy vehicles. The Gaya District Samta Party has demonstrated and picketed for the repair of the bridge, the local collectorate offices in Ambedkar park near the bridge. But up to now the district administration has not listened to the peoples' demands.
It is noteworthy that in a few days time the world famous Pitripaksa Mela is to be held in Gaya. In this Mela hundreds of thousands of people will come from national and international locations to make offerings to their ancestors. The pilgrims will not only come to make offerings but will also tour around in Gaya and the surrounding areas. In such a situation the death of pilgrims on the Phalgu river bridge is a possibility.

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Texts and Translations © Peter G. Friedlander unless otherwise indicated.