BELLARY: One of the links between Bellary and Mantralaya, a pilgrim centre in Andhra Pradesh, got cut off after a portion of the bridge across river Hagari near Moka collapsed on Friday. The movement of vehicular traffic came to a stand still.
The damage to the bridge, which was designed and built in 1962, was for around 20 metres. Movement of heavy vehicular traffic, especially the overloaded ore and sand lorries, on the one hand and sand mining within 500 metres of either side of the bridge on the other, is said to be the reason for the collapse of the bridge. The collapse of the bridge, in addition to cutting off link to neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, has also cut off road network to several villages within the State, including D. Nagenahalli, Yerragudi, Benakal, Jalihal, Sindwal, M. Gonal, situated on the other side of the river.
According to official sources, the bridge was constructed using pipes under it as per the design prepared in 1962 keeping in view the then traffic density. After the iron ore saw a boom in the international market, the transportation of iron ore went up by about 15 times and most of the lorries, majority of them overloaded, were passing through the bridge to avoid the heavy traffic on the NH 63 to reach their destination in Andhra Pradesh.
On their return journey, the lorries began transporting sand. This was said to be the main reason for the collapse of the bridge. This is the second time that the link was getting cut off in past three months. In October, following heavy rains and floods, a portion of the bridge was washed away.