For the last five years, the Yaladabagi bridge at Sira taluk in Tumkur district has been sinking, triggered by indiscriminate sand extraction. The State government has not taken steps to repair or reconstruct the bridge. All the while, vehicles and people continue to cross it unmindful of the danger.
If the bridge across the Kallambella valley sinks further, it could cause a major accident.
The 32-metre bridge was built at a cost of Rs. 28 lakh in 1999-2000.
Though the Public Works Department has put up a board warning against sand extraction within a kilometre of the bridge, the warning is routinely ignored. Sand is extracted all around the bridge and has caused it to sink in sections.
The former zilla panchayat vice-president Mudimadu Rangaswamaiah told The Hindu that sand has been extracted under the bridge and on both sides of it for the past 15 years and this continues even today. He said that lorries loaded with sand are parked on the bridge inflicting further damage on it.
The bridge connects Yaladabagi with more than 15 villages, including Handechikkanahalli, Hakki-Pikki Colony and Sidlekona. Commuters, two-wheelers and other vehicles use the bridge but buses are barred.
Srinivas, a resident of Handichikkanahalli, said: “We usually go on the bridge in our vehicle to avoid the additional distance.”
During the monssons when water in the river increases, the riverbed gets washed gets eroded and a cavity is created into which the bridge is sinking.
Zilla panchayat member C.R. Umesh said, “The bridge may collapse any time and the taluk administration must take steps to prevent vehicular movement on the bridge.” He demanded that the Public Works Department reconstruct the bridge.