Hyderabad: A crucial valley bridge leading to the China border in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand, which was the only supply line for the Indian Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), came crashing down due to the heavy weight of a truck today. The earth mover was meant to be used in the on-going road construction works up to the China border in the mountainous Johar valley in the district. Two persons including the truck driver were seriously injured and the area now remains cut-off from the rest of the state.
Eye-witnesses told Deccan Chronicle over telephone that it was around 9.10 a.m. when the heavy-duty truck was crossing the rickety valley bridge near Munsiyari village on the Dhapa-Milam road. The truck crossed more than half the bridge and as it was reaching the other end, it suddenly crashed and the truck with the heavy equipment fell into the gorge. The locals rushed in to retrieve the two persons who received serious injuries and were shifted to the nearby hospital. The bridge is hardly 65 km away from the border.
''The bridge is about 25 years old and was constructed by the GREF (General Reserve Engineer Force) of the BRO. Unless it is re-constructed quickly, nearly 7,000 villagers, personnel of the Indian Army and ITBP will be completely cut off as this is the only way up to the China border,'' Laxman Pangtey of Munsiyari, told Deccan Chronicle.
Another eyewitness Vicky Rawat said that there were apprehensions that the bridge might collapse anytime. ''Even the truck driver was skeptical whether the bridge would withstand the weight. But he tried to cross it anyway,'' Rawat said. It is learnt that the proclainer belongs to the ABCI Infrastructure limited, engaged in the road construction works.
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) had stepped up road construction work upto the last post on the India-China border in Johar valley even as the stand-off on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) was on. Recently, helicopters landed heavy road building machinery in the tough terrains of Johar valley for construction of the strategic Munsiyari-Bugdiyar-Milam road. The BRO has a major challenge ahead as it tries to cut through the hard rocks, which stand on about 20 kms of the road leading to the border.
Of late, the border district has been witnessing hectic activity as more troops were being dispatched along with other logistics. A district official said that since the route is the key to the border, the re-construction of the bridge will be taken up immediately.
Watch video of the bridge collapse