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Varanasi flyover collapse: Agency was probed for two incidents but no action taken

The UP State Bridge Corporation Limited, which was constructing the Varanasi flyover, had come under investigation for two earlier accidents.

lucknow Updated: May 16, 2018 10:04 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Locals and rescue teams gather near crushed vehicles after a portion of an under-construction flyover collapsed in Varanasi on Tuesday.
Locals and rescue teams gather near crushed vehicles after a portion of an under-construction flyover collapsed in Varanasi on Tuesday. (PTI Photo)
         

The collapse of a portion of an under-construction flyover in Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi that left at least 18 people dead was not the only accident involving the state’s premier bridge construction agency.

The UP State Bridge Corporation Limited, 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, had come under investigation twice earlier.

A public works department engineer, who did not wish to be named, said the 1086.62 metre Chillgahat bridge, built at a cost of Rs 650 crore, cracked within 13 days of the inauguration in 2010. The bridge connected Fatehpur with the Bundelkhand region.

The state government had ordered an inquiry but didn’t take any action against top engineers and officers for poor quality of construction work, he said.

Also in 2016, a cavity developed on the Lohia bridge constructed by the corporation in Lucknow. The state government constituted a four-member probe committee that indicted engineers for poor quality work, but the report was put in cold storage, said a senior engineer in the corporation.

Tuesday’s accident occurred when a pillar of the under-construction flyover gave way suddenly, burying passersby and vehicles.

The toll is expected to rise as a bus and at least six other vehicles were still buried under huge cement blocks that came crashing down near the Cantonment railway station.

Five teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were leading the rescue effort in the city, which is also the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

UP Engineers’ Association general secretary Surjit Singh Niranjan blamed the district administration and the construction agency for not following safety norms.

According to norms, traffic should not be allowed to move under an under-construction bridge and a proper safety net should be put in place at the construction site, he said.

A state government officer said 56% of the 2261-metre Varanasi flyover, being built at a cost of Rs 129 crore, was completed.

The span that collapsed on Tuesday was laid in February to extend the flyover up to Lahartara locality.

The state government has constituted a three-member committee to probe the technical reasons for the incident. The committee’s report is expected to shed light on whether poor quality work or negligence by engineers led to the tragedy.

First Published: May 16, 2018 09:38 IST

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