KOLKATA: Collapse of two bridges within a span of three days in West Bengal, killing three people and injuring many, has sent the Trinamool Congress government into a tizzy and given a weapon to Opposition parties before the Lok Sabha elections in 2019.
While the 40-year-old Majerhat Bridge in Kolkata collapsed on Tuesday evening, the 15-year-old Phansidewa Bridge in Siliguri sub-division of Darjeeling district collapsed on Friday.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee admitted that 20 major bridges across the state, including seven in Kolkata, had completed their life span and might be dangerous. As a precautionary measure to protect other bridges, she asked Kolkata Police to prevent entry of 20-wheeled trailers and called for rehabilitation of shopkeepers beneath major flyovers.
While Mamata blamed vibrations due to Metro work for Majerhat collapse, tourism minister Gautam Deb blamed CPM-controlled Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad for laxity in maintaining Phansidewa Bridge. However, state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said the government was “trying to cover up the condition of bridges by painting them blue and white and doing patchworks”.
The state has seen three major bridge collapses during seven years of TMC rule. Mamata blamed the previous Left government since the bridges were built during their rule. But PM Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, during their recent visits to the state, alleged that TMC-controlled real-estate syndicates forced both government and private construction firms to buy poor quality products from them.
The collapses has brought the PWD’s role into question and is likely to snowball into a major poll issue next year.