Centre offers all help to Bengal
The ‘City of Joy’ mourned on Thursday as a portion of an under-construction 2-km flyover collapsed on a congested road intersection in a North Kolkata neighbourhood, killing more than 20, while over 60 were injured. More than 100 people are feared to be trapped in the debris.
The flyover collapsed at the Rabindra Sarani-KK Tagore Street crossing near Burrabazar, a trading hub and one of the most congested areas in the city. People were seen getting trapped under vehicles, concrete and heavy steel girders. Many hawkers operate under the flyover, which is also used as a parking area. Several people were rescued from under the rubble and were sent to hospitals. A number of vehicles were also crushed as the concrete and steel structure came collapsing.
Meanwhile, Home Minister Rajnath Singh has briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in the US to attend the the two-day Nuclear Security Summit, about the incident and steps being taken by the Centre and the state government for rescuing the people trapped in the rubbel.
“Had a telephonic conversation with the PM and apprised him of the rescue operations being carried out by the NDRF in Kolkata (sic),” Singh tweeted.
The Home Minister said his ministry was constantly monitoring the situation and rescue operations in Kolkata.
In a statement, the Home Ministry said the NDRF has deputed seven teams (315 personnel) to carry out rescue operations at the site. Two more teams are being mobilised for this operation, it said.
The Prime Minister has expressed shock and sadness over the loss of lives in the Kolkata flyover collapse and instructed all possible central help in the rescue and relief operations. “Shocked & saddened by collapse of under-construction flyover in Kolkata. Took stock of the situation & rescue operations,” Modi tweeted. “My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives in Kolkata. May the injured recover at the earliest,” he added in another tweet.
According to sources, the PM is in touch with officials in Delhi and has directed the Army and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to provide all possible assistance in rescue and relief operations.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national president Amit Shah has condoled the death of people in the collapse and has asked the party’s West Bengal unit to join the rescue operations.
“Distressed to learn about an under-construction bridge collapse in Kolkata. Have instructed the WB unit to assist in the rescue operation,” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has demanded a CBI probe into the incident.
“After landing at Kolkata airport, I came to know about the unfortunate incident. I immediately called Union Home minister Rajnath Singh and Defence ministry and requested them to ensure that all possible assistance are provided in the relief work. The state is yet to start the relief work properly. I have requested to send NDRF teams to conduct the relief work,” he said. “We feel that a CBI inquiry should be initiated into the incident, to book the culprits. All culprits, however big he may be, should be arrested. The state should request for a CBI inquiry. This incident is a clear case of rampant corruption regarding the construction of flyover,” Naqvi said.
His Cabinet colleague Kiren Rijiju has termed the collapse as a “disaster”. “It is a disaster. We are ready to provide additional forces if necessary,” he said. Rijiju said a report has been sought from the West Bengal government on the incident and that would give a clear picture on how it had happened. “Report will automatically be generated. It will tell us what actually had happened,” he said.
The Minister said the tragedy had taken place at a very crowded place and it could have been avoided by taking adequate precautionary measures.