KOLKATA: The Kolkata police on Friday served notices asking residents to vacate buildings at the site where a flyover collapsed on Thursday killing 26 people, as some of the buildings’ pillars might give away.
The locality at Ganesh Talkies in the northern part of the city is close to 150 years old and the multi-storeyed buildings there are also very old. The road is narrow, and built in the British era. The flyover that was under construction touches most of the buildings on Kalikrishna Tagore Street and Vivekananda Road.
Two trucks are still stuck under the collapsed section of the flyover, their tyres still intact. As rescue operations continued and four more bodies were brought out, rescue teams felt if the two vehicles collapsed, part of the flyover might fall on adjacent buildings.
However, but for a few who could afford to move out, a majority of the residents were unwilling to leave their homes where they had resided for generations. Many in the locality said that notices could not dislodge them especially as there was no mention of compensation. “Where would we suddenly go? Let the government provide us with housing or let the government demolish the entire flyover which has now proved to be unscientific and posed a threat,” a resident said. Others agreed the flyover could not be completed and it would be better for the government to appoint a PSU to demolish it.
But what surprised many was the explosive statement by Trinamool Congress Lok Sabha MP Sudip Bandopadhyay within whose Kolkata North constituency the locality falls. Bandopadhyay on Friday, visiting the area said, “Many local residents had complained to me. I had earlier said that the original plan and the structural design were defective and it should have been remodelled with the opinion of experts. But by then more than 50 per cent of the flyover had been built and it could not be done.”
Asked why the government did not then demolish the section of the flyover that was defective and avoid a disaster, he said: “That might be your opinion but not mine. So much money had already been spent. Do you know how much government funds would have been wasted?” Replying to a question on why a blacklisted firm was allowed to continue with the construction, he said: “That is for the Minister (state urban development) to reply.” Bandopadhyay’s comments embarrassed the TMC leadership as Assembly polls are scheduled begin from April 4.
The BJP on Friday targeted the ruling TMC as its national secretary Siddharth Nath Singh alleged: “Construction materials supplied were of low standard and it was done by one Rajat Bakshi, who is nephew of TMC nominee for Jorasanko Assembly seat Smita Bakshi. The Chief Minister should order a central probe into such a disaster.” The state Congress president and Lok Sabha MP Adhir Chowdhury too alleged, “I have seen the debris and in the concrete mix there was more sand than cement. The builder was forced to purchase materials from local TMC henchmen.”