‘Act of God’: Construction firm official on Kolkata flyover collapse

  • Agencies, Kolkata/New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 01, 2016 13:46 IST
At least 18 people were killed and dozens more injured when the flyover collapsed in Kolkata. (Subhankar Chakraborty/HT Photo)

An official of the company that was building a flyover that collapsed on to vehicles and street vendors in Kolkata on Thursday said the incident was an “act of God”.

At least 18 people were killed and dozens more injured when the flyover collapsed in the busy city, an official said, as emergency workers battled to rescue people trapped under the rubble.

“About 70% of the construction work was completed properly. The experts regularly monitored the progress of the project… It is a total act of God. This has never happened before, we are also in shock,” KP Rao of IVRCL Infrastructure, the company that is executing the project, told television channels.

Lack of proper planning, delays, lacunae in design and bad tendering may have triggered the collapse, IANS quoted an engineering expert as saying.

The long-delayed 2.5-km Vivekanda flyover under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission was expected to tackle congestion in Burrabazar area - the location of one of the largest wholesale markets in Asia - up to the Howrah station, the gateway to the city.

Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur architecture faculty Joy Sen, who is “very familiar” with the heavily-congested area, said such large-scale projects are executed in phases and if time is not taken into consideration, then it becomes risky.

Read: In pics: Several feared trapped under collapsed Kolkata flyover

“Phasing of construction and time and use of materials are interlocked. If these things are not done on time, then construction like these which are exposed to weather becomes very risky.

“They have a time schedule and you cannot delay with these projects. You need proper planning and you can’t play with human lives,” Sen, a professor and head of architecture and regional planning department said.

The project’s foundation was laid in 2008 and work on the Rs.164-crore project began on February 24, 2009.

It was scheduled to be completed in 2012 but land acquisition issues delayed its completion. The implementing agency too ran into financial troubles.

Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi criticised the slow pace of rescue operation by the West Bengal government and demanded a CBI probe into the under-construction flyover collapse incident.

Read: Kolkata flyover collapse shocks nation: Who said what on tragedy

“The state is yet to start the relief work properly. I have requested to send NDRF teams to conduct the relief work,” the Union minister of state for parliamentary affairs said.

“We feel that CBI inquiry should be initiated into the incident, to book the culprits. All the culprits, however big he may be should be arrested. The state should request for a CBI inquiry. This incident is a clear case of rampant corruption regarding the construction of flyover,” Naqvi said.

Terming the collapse of the flyover as a “disaster”, the Centre assured the West Bengal government all help in rescuing trapped people from the debris and said a report from the state will give a clear picture on how the tragedy had happened.

“It is a disaster. It has to be responded as a disaster. We are ready to provide additional forces if necessary,” he told reporters.

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