Pontoon bridge washed away after sudden water release

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The sudden release of water from the Hathnikund barrage in Haryana washed away several segments of a temporary pontoon bridge between Wazirabad and Majnu Ka Tila, as well as settlements along the Yamuna river in north Delhi on Thursday.

Even on Friday, most government departments remained unaware of the damage to the temporary bridge. But the PWD said it would require at least 30 days to repair and construct the pontoon bridge.

PWD Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan said that an unexpected discharge of water from Haryana into the Yamuna had caused damage to the pontoon bridge.

"We believe at least 38,000 cusecs of water was released and the force was strong enough to wash away parts of a temporary pontoon bridge," Chauhan said, adding that the pontoon bridge was constructed two months ago to ease traffic till construction of the Signature Bridge.

Senior PWD officials said they had engaged two steamers in the Yamuna to tow the displaced sections of the pontoon bridge. "By Friday evening, we had recovered around 35 tubes of the pontoon bridge. Some of the tubes had been washed away till Sarai Kale Khan. Once all the segments are brought back and the water level recedes, we will begin constructing the bridge again," a senior official said.

According to the PWD, the force of the water on Thursday night was strong enough to crack the steel clamps and wires that held the pontoon bridge together. "The pontoon bridge was fastened with steel clamps and three-inch wires. The current was strong enough to break these clamps and wires. We will also work on reinforcing the bridge," said another PWD official.

Sources in the PWD said they were not informed of the discharge of water and have taken up the issue with Chauhan.

"Neither flood control department nor the Delhi Jal Board notified the PWD about the impending water discharge. Our officials on ground noticed the current in the Yamuna increase and called the police to stop traffic," said a senior PWD official. He added that everyday, at least 150 vehicles use the pontoon bridge every hour.

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