Gangtok, Jun 24: The Indian army on Monday said the force has constructed a foot suspension bridge in less than 48 hours to reconnect the border villages in the northern part of Sikkim, which have been affected by heavy rain and landslides leading to the death of six people earlier this month.

A suspension bridge has its roadway suspended from cables usually passing over towers and securely anchored at the ends.

"The Indian Army engineers of Trishakti Corps have constructed a 150-foot suspension bridge in North Sikkim to re-connect the border villages which got cut off due to continued heavy rains to give respite to the locals," the Indian Army said in a statement.

The foot suspension bridge built over a stream in less than 48 hours will restore connectivity to the border villages and facilitate movement of the people and relief materials, it said.

North Sikkim’s Mangan district was lashed by torrential rains on June 13 snapping road links and communication infrastructure. As a result, around 1500 tourists had been stranded for almost a week.

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New Delhi, Jul 22: The government on Monday cited an inter-ministerial group report prepared in 2012 to assert that a case for granting special category status to Bihar is not made out; a stand which came a day after BJP's allies from Bihar demanded the status for the backward state.

In a written reply in the Lok Sabha on the first day of the Monsoon session, Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary said special category status was granted in the past by the National Development Council (NDC) to some states which were characterised by a number of features necessitating special consideration.

These included hilly and difficult terrain, low population density or sizeable share of tribal population, strategic location along borders with neighbouring countries, economic and infrastructural backwardness and non-viable nature of state finances, he said in reply to a question asked by JD(U) member Rampreet Mandal.

The decision was taken based on an integrated consideration of all the factors listed above and the peculiar situation of a state, the minister said.

"Earlier, the request of Bihar for Special Category Status was considered by an Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) which submitted its Report on 30th March 2012. The IMG came to the finding that based on existing NDC criteria, the case for Special Category Status for Bihar is not made out," the minister said.

The Congress-led UPA was in power at the time.

JD(U) leader Sanjay Kumar Jha had voiced his party's demand for the status at an all-party meeting on Sunday. The Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas), also a BJP ally, and the opposition RJD echoed the same demand at the meeting.

The JD(U), though, has already conveyed to the Centre that it is willing to settle for a special financial package in case the status cannot be granted to the state.

The BJD and the YSR Congress had made the same demand for Odisha and Andhra Pradesh respectively in the meeting.

The government has in the past also argued that the 14th Finance Commission report has ruled out the possibility of any more states being granted the status, which includes tax relief and higher central funding for the beneficiary states.