BHUBANESWAR: The Bomikhal flyover mishap has left behind a trail of questions on structural design and apparent mishandling of rescue operation. The manner in which authorities managed the rescue and debris clearing operations, has raised doubts whether a smart city like Bhubaneswar is equipped to handle such crisis.
Though five cranes, as many excavators, one hydraulic lift and gas cutters were engaged apart from several teams of NDRF, ODRAF, fire brigade and civil defence personnel, it took more than eight hours to clear the debris of a 30 feet slab.
The rescue operation was delayed as equipment reached at least an hour late, while construction engineers claimed the equipment were not used as per sequence and were pressed into service haphazardly.
Initially they pressed cranes into service to take out the iron channels and rods from the debris making the process tardy. Later, a hydraulic lift, gas cutters and excavators were engaged to clear construction materials as the cranes failed to do the job.
“The structure that collapsed was not that big but it took over eight hours to be cleared. Thank God none was found trapped under the debris. The excavators should have been deployed first as the concrete materials had not settled,” said an expert.
Usually, pneumatic drill, gas cutter, excavator and crane are required to speed up rescue operation in such mishaps. Structural expert PK Padhi said, authorities should carefully decide on proper use of the equipment at the time of crisis to expedite rescue operation. “In such mishaps, officials first need to ascertain whether anyone is trapped.
For that they need to take the help of specially trained dogs or ultra-sonic detectors. Here, the dogs were brought to the scene after more than three hours,” he explained.
Pointing out at the uneven gap between the two slabs, Padhi said, it appears no risk assessment, which is an established procedure, was undertaken before the work. Besides, a barricade should have been erected at least 10 to 15 feet away from the construction site to prevent passersby coming closer to the danger zone, he said.
“Concrete works in such crowded areas are not admissible during day time and are generally carried out during night to avoid vehicular vibration,” Padhi said. The inquiry must be conducted by an independent team comprising structural engineers and experts from IIT to avoid conflict of interest, he added.