Mangaluru: A bridge in Moolarapatna that linked the villages of Mangaluru to Bantwal taluk collapsed Monday evening, but a worse disaster was, fortunately, averted as there were neither vehicles nor people on it at the time.
Although officials have not yet established the reason for the collapse of the bridge, local residents and activists blame the rampant illegal sand mining in the region.
It was around 5 p m when a pillar of the bridge collapsed. Going by PWD officials the foundation well of the pillar gave way, bringing it down and two slabs, which fell into the river Phalguni nearby.
Although pedestrians can now use a hanging bridge some distance away to get across, vehicles will have to take a longer route now to reach the other side. Police have been deployed on both sides of the road to divert the vehicles to alternate route.
But unimpressed by the damage control being carried out, NECF state secretary, Shashidhar Shetty, who is leading the fight against illegal sand mining in the region, said it was rampant at the spot.
“Although the rules don't permit sand mining near the bridge, sand was loaded in trucks below it using excavators during summer,” he said. Claiming that this had damaged the base of the bridge, he says the flooding of the river in the recent monsoon weakened the pillar further, leading to its collapse.
Similar sand mining takes place below the bridge on the National Highway in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada, according to him....