Acting on Morbi tragedy, Odisha govt shuts down Mahanadi suspension bridge

The collapse of a suspension cable bridge in Gujarat’s Morbi, which killed over 140 people, has prompted the Odisha government to act too.

Following the major incident, the Odisha government has closed down the suspension bridge, connecting the Dhabaleswar Shiva shrine on an island in Mahanadi River to Athagarh of Cuttack district and seeing a heavy traffic flow.

The bridge was closed down for an indefinite period and prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC clamped at the famous Dhabaleswar shrine ahead of the Bada Osha and Kartika Purnima festivals on November 7 and 8.

The authorities have clamped prohibitory orders at the shrine because devotees may try to visit the temple using mechanised or country boats, which may also invite trouble for the government, an official said.

During the above two festivals, a very large number of devotees usually throng the famous Shiva Shrine using the suspension bridge. For the last two years, the devotees were not allowed to visit the shrine in view of Covid-19 and this year, it was expected that more devotees would throng to the temple during the festivals.

In between, the Morbi incident took place, which raised alarm bells for the Odisha government.

The bridge was constructed in 2006 and now it has become weak. First, the local administration has capped its maximum capacity to 200 persons from 600 persons at a time. Later, they decided to close it down for an indefinite period.

“Looking at the safety of the devotees, we have put these restrictions at Dhabaleswar temple. We have installed a big LED TV near the hanging bridge through which devotees can witness the rituals of the Lord Dhabaleswar through virtual mode,” said Cuttack District Collector Bhabani Shankar Chayani.

However, the temple priests and devotees are unhappy with the sudden decision of the local administration.

“When the Morbi incident happened, the authority suddenly woke up and clamped Section 144 citing the bridge is weak. If the bridge has become weak, why have they not repaired it earlier or ensured an alternative mode of communication to the temple?” asked Pravat Nalini Mohapatra, a devotee.

Similarly, in a precautionary measure, the Rayagada district administration had closed a suspension bridge over Nagabali river since September 25 this year after the bridge developed cracks. Apart from providing connectivity to several villages, the 151-metre-long suspension bridge constructed over the Nagavali river, was a tourist point.

20221106-100604

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