The Company Involved in the Bihar Bridge Collapse and Its Extensive Government Connections
SP Singla Constructions, a company based in Haryana, was entrusted with the responsibility of constructing the Aguwani-Sultanganj bridge over the Ganga River in Bihar’s Bhagalpur district. This company boasts an impressive list of government clients but has been embroiled in controversies in the past.
On Sunday, an under-construction bridge spanning the Ganga River collapsed in Bhagalpur, Bihar, sparking widespread political and social unrest throughout the country. The bridge’s collapse has provoked public outrage, leading the chief minister to order an investigation with instructions to hold those responsible for the disaster accountable.
While no casualties were reported, the bridge collapse has severely tarnished the reputation of the current Bihar government led by Nitish Kumar. Many people are furious over the subpar construction and inadequate safety standards exhibited in such projects.
The bridge, which collapsed for the second time, was being constructed by SP Singla Constructions, a company based in Haryana. Sat Paul Singla leads the construction firm, which was commissioned to build the Aguwani-Sultanganj bridge in Bihar’s Bhagalpur district over the Ganga River.
It was established in 1996 and has consistently expanded its business over the years. According to its financial statements, the company’s net worth was approximately Rs 869 crore in the 2022 fiscal year.
As stated on the company’s website, SP Singla Constructions specializes in various areas, including deep foundations, long-span bridge construction, urban flyover construction, elevated road construction, elevated metro viaducts construction, station building construction, and spillways construction.
Previous controversies have involved this company, notably in May 2020 when three children lost their lives due to a concrete slab collapse during the construction of Lohiya Chakra Path—a significant project spearheaded by Nitish Kumar in Patna. An inquiry was launched into the incident, but subsequent actions taken against the construction company remain unknown.
Significantly, SP Singla Constructions has secured several government projects in Bihar, including a six-lane bridge across the Ganga River in Patna, Lohia Path Chakra on Jawaharlal Nehru Road, and the Sherpur-Dighwara bridge from the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI)
A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed with the Patna High Court, urging an independent investigation into the Bhagalpur-based Aguwani-Sultanganj bridge collapse. The petitioner, Manibhushan Pratap Sengar, calls for an impartial investigation rather than an internal inquiry and demands appropriate action against SP Singla Company, the construction firm associated with the bridge project. The PIL also seeks the recovery of thousands of incurred losses.
Pointing out the lack of audits, Ravi Shankar Prasad commented on Monday, “This is the second time the bridge has collapsed, indicating a conspiracy. What actions were taken after the first collapse? What steps were taken against the company responsible for constructing the bridge? Nitish Kumar is preoccupied with uniting the opposition, disregarding Bihar. If a bridge collapses twice, it is a cause for concern… I hope that all ongoing bridge constructions undergo thorough audits…”
On Monday, Nitish Kumar instructed officials to take strict action against those accountable for the “substandard construction work” of the under-construction bridge over the Ganga River. The bridge that collapsed yesterday had also collapsed the previous year. I have directed the relevant authorities to thoroughly investigate the matter. The construction is flawed, leading to repeated collapses. The department will thoroughly examine the issue, and I have instructed officials to visit the site and take appropriate action,” stated CM Nitish Kumar on Monday.