KOLKATA/HYDERABAD: It was a stiff deadline the builder was racing to catch when an under construction flyover came crashing down killing at least 22 people, injuring more than 80 and trapping several including school children at Burrabazzar here.
While Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is said to have insisted that the work be over by March 31, builder IVRCL Ltd of Hyderabad is learnt to have missed at least eight deadlines for executing the contract for constructing the Vivekananda Road flyover. The cash strapped IVRCL has been under a lot of pressure for the past six years. A criminal case has been registered against the company.
According to State government engineers, the TMC government wanted to package the flyover as a big achievement in poll-bound West Bengal, hence the urgency to wrap up the project. Local residents alleged that the cement mix was laid on the slab only on Wednesday night but work started as early as noon, even before the mix could turn into concrete.
Milon Sheikh, a worker who survived at the site, said, “I was working on the flyover doing welding when I saw the nuts and bolts snap. We were told to hurry up and complete the work by today. All of a sudden, it collapsed and I fell along with it.”
The blamegame began soon enough with the opposition and the ruling TMC trading charges. Critics said that the route of the Vivekananda flyover was tweaked and architects questioned the plan as the flyover was in sniffing distance to the century-old buildings and its porticos. A Tata Sumo with at least 20 school children and a bus with 50 passengers were trapped, with officials fearing for the worst. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called up Mamata Banerjee from the US and expressed shock.