Failure to cast cross beams for locking the girders led to the collapse of a portion of a railway over-bridge (ROB) in Varanasi last month as the structure was left exposed to external forces, a probe into the incident, which left 15 dead in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency, has found.
The technical committee set up by Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya to go into the causes leading to the collapse submitted its report last week. The panel has also mentioned that uninterrupted traffic flow on the busy road was the main reason for generating vibrations that may have led to the collapse.
The report, accessed by agencies, was submitted to Principal Secretary, PWD, Sanjay Agarwal, in the absence of the deputy chief minister who is presently admitted to a Delhi hospital.
It states that five girders cast between pier 79 and pier 80 in the months of February-March 18 remained free as the required cross beams were not cast. Since free girders remained sensitive to the vibrations caused by uninterrupted traffic on both sides and wind forces, “there is strong possibility that they (girders) registered some tremblings and finally slipped,” the report says.
Heavy traffic movement day and night under the breadth of the bridge became the cause of accident, the report mentions.
Going into the technical aspects of the incident, the traverse displacement of the girders caused by external forces of movement of traffic and recent storms kept accumulating and they collapsed, the report concludes.
PWD’s Chief Engineer (Bridges) YK Gupta and Chief Engineer, Allahabad Circle, SK Gupta were two members of the committee that conducted the inquiry after a third member appointed by the deputy CM excused himself from it.
Two beams of the 2261-metre flyover between Chokaghat and Lahartara being constructed by UP State Bridge Corporation at a cost of Rs 129 crore had collapsed on May 15.
A case was registered against Bridge Corporation officials and employees, working on the site, under Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), Section 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) of the IPC following a complaint by Roadways police outpost in-charge.
However, no one was named in the FIR.
The project manager and other officials were suspended and the government also shifted then Managing Director of Bridge Corporation Rajan Mittal.
Mittal, was removed from his post during the term of the Akhilesh Yadav government following complaints. But he was reinstated when the BJP government came to power last year.
The flyover collapse had triggered a blame game between the local administration and the corporation.
Varanasi Senior Superintendent of Police R K Bhardwaj said an inspection of the construction site about two months ago showed that the builders were not following safety measures like putting up proper barricades and laying out a service lane.
Mittal had, however, refuted the charges and asserted that he was is in possession of five letters sent to SP, Traffic, between November 2017 and March 2018 for regulating traffic and removing encroachments in the area.
The corporation, which once earned kudos for bagging projects not only in other states but also in Iraq, Yemen and Nepal, had been receiving flak recently.
In the aftermath of the collapse, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath asked the state public works department and other agencies carrying out construction works to take steps to prevent recurrence of such incidents.
He issued a checklist to be strictly followed in all construction works. The points in the list included proper barricading of the construction site and making alternative arrangement for traffic movement.
On the basis of his directive, traffic has been totally diverted from the area where the accident took place. The chief minister had also directed authorities concerned to make third-party inspection necessary of all important works to ensure quality.