CUTTACK: With the collapse of an under-construction bridge over Mahanadi river near Banki raising serious questions over quality of infrastructure projects of the Works department, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday pulled up Works Secretary N K Pradhan for the mishap.
Far from satisfied with the action taken by the Works Secretary, who suspended two engineers for their lapses as a knee-jerk reaction, a visibly upset Chief Minister rapped the top brass of the department for the inordinate delay in completion of major infrastructure projects, being executed by the department.
The Chief Minister, who also is in charge of the Works department, cautioned that such callousness in future will be viewed seriously.
The bridge, which collapsed on Wednesday night, had left around 13 workers and an engineer seriously injured.
Earlier in the day, the department announced that a team led by Engineer-in-chief (Civil) Sukadev Meher and comprising chief engineers of Design, Roads and World Bank projects will probe into the reasons behind the collapse and submit its report within 10 days.
The probe would determine if the collapse was caused by callousness on the part of the contractor or it had been effected by some structural flaw in the bridge. “We do not want to jump into conclusions immediately. Every aspect will be examined thoroughly and in a scientific manner. If negligence is found, action will be initiated. But we are worried as to why such mishaps are occurring at the very bridge”, Works department secretary Nalinikanta Pradhan said.
This is the second time that a portion of the 2077 metre-long bridge, which would link Jatamundia with Subarnapur under Athgarh, has caved in. In June 2013, a whole span had gone down though no one had been injured in the accident.
On Wednesday evening, however, the workers were not so lucky as pillars gave in while laying the spans on them. Around three pillars and four spans collapsed taking workers down along with them. While 14 have been seriously injured, the condition of three is stated to be critical. They have been shifted to the SCB Medical College and Hospital here.
While the reason for the mishap is yet to be ascertained, sources said the hurry to get the bridge completed by the month-end could have led to the collapse. The pillars had been erected recently and had undergone the onslaught of floods earlier this month. They could have weakened and thus did not sustain the weight of the spans.
The project, being executed by City-based Rajlaxmi Constructions, has already missed several deadlines. Initiated in 2008, it was to be completed by 2011 at an envisaged cost of `54.72 crore. The date was then shifted to 2013, but again got delayed due to the mishap last year. While the project has suffered a cost escalation to over `62 crore, the latest incident will delay it further.
The two engineers who were suspended included SDO Pradip Kumar Bal and JE Ramesh Chandra Sahoo. They were in charge of the bridge.