In a major embarrassment to the district administration, a small portion of the busy Airport Road caved in outside the Amritsar central jail, leading to protests from residents of colonies along this busy road and suspension of traffic.
At a time when deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal makes claims of putting in place the best possible infrastructure for a city, which is among the most visited places in the country, the collapse of the Airport Road has raised eyebrows, with questions being asked about the quality of the construction works that are being executed in the city.
The collapse of a portion of a road which is used by a large number of VIPs flying in and out of the city, has raised doubts about the safety of travelling on roads, particularly those that have just been constructed or are under construction.
AUTO-RICKSHAW FALLS IN 8-FT PIT
The incident happened at around 2am on Sunday when an auto-rickshaw was going towards a marriage palace to pick up passengers. A couple of yards from the main gate of the jail, the road just caved in taking the auto-rickshaw and its driver into an 8-ft deep pit.
Luckily, the auto driver who was moving at a very slow speed received minor injuries. It was only after he raised a hue and cry that a couple of residents of houses along the roadside came out and pulled him out. The pit that was formed was 8-ft deep, 11-ft long and 6-ft wide, enough to accommodate a small-sized car. Those who had rescued the auto driver stood on the roadside throughout the night and lit a fire to warn others moving towards the airport.
PROTEST BY RESIDENTS
At around 8am, a large number of residents of colonies on both sides of the road gathered at the site and staged a dharna. They blocked the traffic till 2pm and lifted it only after the administration ordered an inquiry.
Amritsar (rural) District Congress Committee (DCC) president Gurjeet Singh Aujla, who resides in one of the colonies along the road, led the protest and demanded immediate action against the officials responsible for the construction of the road, which was built just about an year ago after laying sewer and water pipe lines underneath it.
"I had warned the administration about the road collapsing when the sewer and water lines were being laid. This warning I had given as the foundations on which the sewer and water pipelines were laid were not solid as the mud had not been properly compressed," Aujla said while showing newspaper clippings of the statements that he had given in the media about a year ago.
In fact, Aujla's predictions proved right and the district officials who visited the site had no answers. "If a VIP had fallen in the pit, then what action would you have taken?" he asked.
Later, deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat announced the formation of a three-member inquiry team. This team will consist of the superintendent engineers (SEs) of the sewerage department, the PWD (buildings and roads) and PUDA.