AIZAWL: Efforts to put Mizoram on the railway map of the country encountered a major setback on Wednesday after an under-construction railway bridge collapsed in the Sairang area near Aizawl, claiming lives of at least 17 workers. The ill-fated bridge gave way around 10 am, during ongoing construction activities. With an estimated 30 individuals reportedly present at the site when the disaster struck, fears of additional casualties linger as search and rescue efforts are underway.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveyed this deep sorrow over the tragedy and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh from PMNRF to the next of kin of each deceased and Rs. 50,000 to the injured. Taking to a popular micro-blogging website, the PM wrote, “Pained by the bridge mishap in Mizoram. Condolences to those who have lost their loved ones. May the injured recover soon. Rescue operations are underway and all possible assistance is being given to those affected.”
Mizoram’s Chief Minister Zoramthanga affirmed that rescue operations are actively in progress. In a heartfelt statement posted on his official social media account, the Chief Minister wrote, “Under construction railway over bridge at Sairang, near Aizawl collapsed today; at least 15 workers died: Rescue under progress. Deeply saddened and affected by this tragedy. I extend my deepest condolences to all the bereaved families and wish a speedy recovery to the injured. Sending gratitude to the people who have come out in large numbers to help with rescue operations (sic).”
Accompanying his message was a video depicting the aftermath of the bridge’s collapse, capturing the magnitude of the disaster. The local Sairang branch of the Young Mizo Association has stepped forward to lead the ongoing rescue efforts, working tirelessly to save any potential survivors.
The bridge in question was a pivotal component of an ambitious Indian Railways project aimed at connecting all the state capitals in the Northeast. Its construction had been underway for several years.
“The incident happened around 11 am. We are yet to ascertain the reason behind the accident and how many people were on it when it occurred,” Sabyasachi De, Chief Public Relations Officer of Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), told a reputed national daily.
Earlier, the Union government had earmarked Rs. 1,000 crore for the Bairabi-Sairang railway project in Mizoram during its budget allocation for the fiscal year 2021-22. Initiated in 2008-09, the project envisages a new railway line spanning 51.38km. The anticipated cost stands at approximately Rs. 5,521.45 crore, with substantial funding already invested until 2020.
Encompassing 55 major bridges, 87 minor bridges, 5 Road Over Bridges (ROBs), 6 Road Under Bridges (RUBs), and a network of tunnels totalling around 12,639.20 meters, this project is a significant infrastructural endeavour in the Northeast.