Bridge collapse: High power committee finds negligence of 'a section of PWD officials' at fault

Bridge collapse: High power committee finds negligence of a section of PWD officials at fault

Kolkata: The Mamata Banerjee government has decided to construct a new bridge within a year after bringing down the remaining structure of the damaged Majerhat Bridge.

At the same time, the high power committee in its preliminary report held "negligence" of a section of officials of the state Public Works Department (PWD) as responsible for the caving in of Majerhat Bridge and also highlighted the issue of vibration caused due to Metro construction work as a possible cause behind the incident that took place on September 4.

The final report in this connection, subject to availability of technical information, will be submitted to the Chief Minister within a month.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held a Press conference at the state Secretariat along with Chief Secretary Malay De, who heads the high power committee.

Besides coming to an "impartial conclusion" over the cause of the caving in of the bridge, the Chief Secretary has also suggested bringing down the remaining portion of the structure and to initiate construction of a new one at the same place as early as possible, with a target of completion of construction within a year.

The work on the same will start within a month and the steps to demolish the remaining portion of the existing structure will be taken as early as possible. The Chief Minister said: "He (Chief Secretary) has suggested bringing down the entire structure and construction of a new one in its place. The decision has been taken up in this connection within just seven days of the incident. The Chief Secretary will be monitoring the entire work."

She further said that the Chief Secretary will be taking the decision on which agency will be constructing the bridge.

"People of the southern fringes of the city, including Behala and South 24-Parganas are facing problem as the bridge has caved in. All steps have been taken up to widen and repair other roads through which vehicles are getting diverted now. Moreover, I have personally spoken to the general manager of Eastern Railway in connection with setting up of a level crossing at Majerhat, where steps have been taken up to construct an alternate road. The state government will be funding the setting up and operation of the manned level crossing. Officials of railway and PWD have inspected the same on Friday and they will be submitting the report in connection with the new level crossing soon," said the Chief Minister.

In connection with setting up of the level crossing, she said: "Railways didn't allow setting up of the level crossing. But it is an emergency-like situation and setting up of the level crossing should be considered."

In connection with the reasons behind the bridge caving in, Banerjee said: "Despite PWD being one of our departments, negligence of a section of its officials cannot be forgiven. There was delay in clearing files (for repair work of the bridge). Some precautionary measures should have been taken to avert the incident, when the PWD officials had come to know about the weak condition of the bridge in 2016. They (PWD officials) cannot waive their responsibility."

It may be mentioned that the particular file was not dealt with by PWD minister Aroop Biswas and the delay in releasing the file was the fault of "a section of officials".

Reacting sharply to the delay in releasing the file, the Chief Minister said: "Why should one delay release of the file?"

She further stated that Kolkata Police is also carrying out a probe and they will speak to whoever they need in this connection. "No one will be spared if found guilty in the probe and the government will take steps as per the law," Banerjee said.

Speaking on the incident of two officials being arrested from Nabanna on charges of demanding bribe, she said such acts will not be tolerated.

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