Flyover collapse in Varanasi was a natural disaster: Senior UP Bridge Corp official
The official ruled out that poor quality construction material was used to build the Varanasi flyover and said the thunderstorm that struck the city a couple of days ago could be the reason behind the incident.india Updated: May 16, 2018 17:51 IST
A senior official of Uttar Pradesh’s premier bridge construction agency that was building the flyover in Varanasi, a portion of which gave way on Tuesday killing at least 18 people, said on Wednesday the collapse was a “natural disaster” and blamed the authorities of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency for the deaths.
Rajan Mittal, the managing director of Uttar Pradesh State Bridge Corporation Ltd, also ruled out that poor quality construction material was used to build the flyover and said the thunderstorm that struck the city a couple of days ago could be the reason behind the incident.
“Preliminary findings point towards a loose cross-beam connection or a bearing failure. The beam may have got dislodged from its socket because of the thunder-storm and fell. So it may be a natural disaster,” Mittal said while speaking to the Hindustan Times.
The senior officer said the pressure to complete such projects was always there when asked whether the constraint of the deadline to complete the project could have caused the flyover to collapse.
“We were working round-the-clock in three shifts of eight hours each. But we were taking all the precautions and following the rule book in the casting and laying of girders. The project completion deadline was December 2018 and we had completed 56% work on the bridge,” Mittal said.
“Traffic movement should not have been allowed underneath the bridge. It’s a very congested area. We had written several letters to the police and administration authorities to regulate and impose traffic restrictions around the construction site. But our requests went unheeded,” he added.
The corporation, which has earlier won praise for doing good work and constructed bridges and flyovers in Indian cities as well as in as well as Iraq, Yemen and Nepal, has come under investigation twice earlier.
The state government ordered an inquiry into both the incidents but didn’t take any action against top engineers and officers for the poor quality of construction work.
Mittal said the corporation has stopped all the construction work on its ongoing projects in the state and it will start only after the safety norms at the sites are analysed to check a repeat of the Varanasi incident.
The corporation is constructing 115 bridges and flyovers worth ?3,464 crore and 68 railway over bridges (ROBs) worth ?2,056 crore across the state in the financial year 2018-19. The state government has set the target to complete the construction of the bridges, flyovers and ROBs by the end of the year.
It is also constructing 73 bridges/flyovers and 36 ROBs that are to be completed next year.
Mittal said the corporation had constituted teams of the engineers and experts that will visit the spots to review the construction of all the bridges, flyovers and ROBs.
“The teams will see if the security norms set by the state government has been implemented at the construction sites. The quality of the materials used in the construction of the bridges and flyovers will be also checked and there will be no construction till the teams complete the review works and submit reports within three days,” Mittal said.
“Senior engineers of the corporation will analyse all the reports and construction work will commence only after they give green signal,” he added.
State public works department minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, who is also the deputy chief minister, directed the corporation’s officers to review all the projects and ensure implementation of the safety norms on a priority basis during his visit to Varanasi on Tuesday.
Chief minister Yogi Adityanath also inquired about the reasons and why safety norms were not implemented.
Mittal expressed sympathy with the family members of those killed and said all the employees of the corporation have decided to donate a day’s salary to the chief minister’s relief fund.
“We have around 4,000 employees and all the unions have conveyed their decision to me that they would be donating a day’s wage to the fund for the kin of the victims,” he said.