KOLKATA: After Majerhat bridge collapse in Kolkata on September 4 and Phansidewa bridge collapse near Siliguri on September 7, an under-construction bridge collapsed at Kakdwip in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal on Monday, making it the third bridge to collapse in the state in the past 20 days. However, no one was injured in the incident.
"The bridge caved in but nobody was injured," said Sundarbans police district SP Tathagata Basu.
Three girders of the under-construction bridge over Kalnagini river which was planned to connect the ferry ghat of Kakdwip with Paschim Gangadharpur locality of Kakdwip collapsed at around 9 am on Monday. While cracks were seen by locals in the Rs 28-crore worth bridge that is under construction since 2015, a fresh layer of cement was put on the bridge 10 days ago, sources revealed. However, the support to the bridge was removed recently.
"The construction agency hurriedly removed the support to the girders without consulting my department engineer. A high-level probe has been ordered and those found guilty won't be spared," Sundarbans Affairs minister Manturam Pakhira said. The construction firm has been booked after the incident.
Soon after the incident, the state government has decided to form a dedicated department to look after the bridges and to scrutinise whether the construction firms have enough expertise to expedite the construction of bridges.
"It is being probed whether there was any technological or construction defect in the bridge. Soon after return of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, steps will be taken for refurbishment of all bridges of the state. It will be assessed whether the construction companies bidding for building bridges have required expertise in it," said education minister Partha Chatterjee, who is heading a team of ministers formed by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee before going on a tour to Germany and Italy to draw investments to the state in manufacturing and leather industry sectors. She is expected to return on September 28.
'Was under construction, not bridge yet, so no bridge collapse'
Sundarbans Affairs minister Manturam Pakhira and education minister Partha Chatterjee seemed wary of the word 'bridge collapse' and created controversy saying that the under-construction bridge was not yet completed so it would be inappropriate to call the collapse as another 'bridge collapse'. "The bridge was not yet completed, so we can't call it a bridge collapse," Chatterjee said.
On the other hand, Pakhira blamed media for 'concocting' bridge collapse story. "Several media outlets are misleading the public by trying to portray it as a bridge collapse whereas the bridge was still under construction,-" he said.
Reacting to the statements, Left Front Assembly leader and South 24 Parganas district secretary Sujan Chakraborty said: "The state ministers are speaking like fools. Who called the tenders for building the bridge? Who sanctioned the money for constructing the bridge? The state government or some ghost did it?"