Flyover razing row reaches CM's door
Kolkata: The Vivekananda Road flyover in Kolkata, a portion of which collapsed on March 31, 2016, killing 26 people, awaits the final nod from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for its demolition. No new flyover will be constructed in its place.
The committee set up to study the health of the flyover after the collapse found its design to be faulty and recommended its pull down. Around Rs 100 crore will be required to bring down the huge structure. It is interesting to note that while the construction cost of the flyover was Rs 164 crore, its dismantling cost will be around Rs 100 crore.
The erstwhile Left Front government had taken up the plan to construct a flyover to clear traffic jam in Burrabazar area in 2007. The estimated cost was Rs 164 crore.
The expert committee found that the design of the flyover to be faulty and concluded that it would not serve any purpose. The pillars had become weak due to lack of maintenance and huge money would be required to complete the project.
It may be recalled that shortly after the construction of the flyover began, the locals had put up a stiff resistance after they found that because of the wall of the flyover many people could not open the windows of their houses and faced serious inconvenience. A portion of the flyover had gone right above the verandah of a few houses too whose residents feared that in case of any collapse, the huge iron beams would fall on their houses causing damage to life and property.
But ignoring their objections, the then Urban Development minister Ashok Bhattacharya went ahead with the construction which proved to be disastrous.
The state government will now have to dish out money from its own coffer to dismantle a faulty construction which was the handiwork of its predecessor.
Bringing down the structure seems to be a formidable problem. It will be difficult to get a place where the steel and other materials that were used to construct the flyover can be kept as the area is extremely congested. Also, a plan will be required to fix the time when the dismantling operation can be carried out. During daytime, it is impossible to pull down the structure because of heavy traffic and at night, there is loading and unloading at Burrabazar and Posta markets. Once Chief Minister's clearance is received, planning will be done to remove the mammoth structure.
The locals demanded that the engineers of Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) who had cleared the faulty design along with Bhattacharya should be arrested.
Over the years, the area below the flyover has been converted into an illegal parking zone. Roadside motor repairing garages have come up along with some eateries. Engineers said it would take not less than three to four months to clear the debris and once the area is cleared, a comprehensive traffic management scheme will be chalked out.