Ahead of elections, the West Bengal politics is at its peak. BJP is trying to expand itself from the roots here but Mamata Banarjee is as usual a powerful contender. West Bengal is set to face its most aggressive Assembly election. BJP is hopeful to make a dent in Left and Congress effective state. In 2011, it was the Trinamool Congress, led by Mamata Banerjee, which stormed to power, putting an end to the 34-year-long Left rule led by Buddhadeb Bhattacharya. This time also her chance to retain the power is strong.
Along with BJP, other political parties tried to pull down Mamata Banerjee government in the state with negative campaigning but never succeeded to lower her popularity. However, the collapsed bridge gave them subject to play politics. Following the collapse of an under-construction overpass in Kolkata that killed 25 and injured another 90, doubts are being raised on the construction quality of several infrastructure projects in Maharashtra undertaken by the firm that was building the flyover, IVRCL.
Currently, IVRCL is involved in several road projects in districts like Pune, Satara, Yavatmal, Chandrapur, Wardha. It has also bagged several irrigation projects in the state. The firm’s website shows that, it has a share of public infrastructure contracts in several states including Andhra Pradhesh, Maharashtra. Many political parties in Maharashtra demanded that all ongoing projects in the state undertaken by IVRCL or its joint venture with other firms should be probed on technical soundness. IVRCL in JV with other firms is currently constructing several projects in Maharashtra and all these should be reviewed by the government by technical experts to ensure that there is no repeat of accidents on the lines of the Kolkata Bridge. Although, the company is not involved in any project in Mumbai, a consortium led by it carried out widening and concretization of 25-km Sion- Panvel highway a few years ago. So far, there is no complaint against IVRCL in any state. This is the first blot in the company’s history.
The Rs. 1,700-crore project was implemented on Built Operate Transfer (BOT) basis and the consortium has a concession period of collecting tolls for 17 years. A senior Public Works Department official informed that there is no chance of inquiry since the project is already been operational. They are aware that there are a several other projects IVRCL has undertaken in Maharashtra. In addition to PWD projects, IVRCL has bagged some contracts under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY). IVRCL group is very close to BJP leaders. Anyway, IVRCL is well resourced and politically connected company. Maybe that’s the reason, Karanji-Wani-Ghuggus-Chandrapur Road, Faltan- Shirwal road, Baramati- Faltan road, and some internal roads in Wardha, Chandrapur are some of the projects IVRCL has bagged in recent years. Meanwhile, major government infrastructure development agencies like Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) clarified that IVRCL was not involved in any project under their jurisdiction. IVRCL has also undertaken water irrigation project in which standard operating procedure has been followed, 78 % of work completed without accident, says official.
IVRCL Limited, the Hyderabad-based company that is constructing the Kolkata flyover, a portion of which collapsed, is yet to ascertain the cause for the collapse. It is for the first time in the history of the company that such an incident has occurred. We are unable to comprehend at this stage what could have happened. It is beyond thinking, no one knows how and why this tragedy happened. As per the construction company authorities, the standard operating procedure had been followed, and the company had completed 76-78 per cent of the work without any untoward incident. The flyover at Burra Bazar, estimated to cost Rs. 166 crore, was to have been completed in 18 months. Work was delayed owing to lack of clearances because the area was “very crowded”. The BSE has sought a clarification from the company. In its reply to the BSE, IVRCL said the Vivekananda flyover had been designed by a reputed consultant from Kolkata. All clearances and steps to ensure quality had been taken, the company said.
However, experts said an under-construction structure usually collapses due to design error or flaws in welding that leave cracks, causing the structure to collapse under the dead weight of the concrete. Dead weight is the weight of the structure without its programmed load. The police detained 7 workers in Kolkata in connection with the IVRCL flyover collapse, these are said to be labour heads at the Kolkata flyover construction site. However, it was not confirmed whether these were indeed employees of IVRCL or independent contractors hired by the company. The official death toll is at 25 while sources suggest at least 26 have died in the tragic collapse of the under-construction Vivekananda flyover. Fifteen of the dead were identified while the identification processes of the rest were on.
No one can compensate for the lives which left this world. There are many injured and many families are mourning. No government wishes for the death of its people or tragedy that should happen. So, at the moment every political party should stand by the people without playing any politics over this incident.
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