Three persons were killed after Kolkata Majherhat bridge collapsed in the West Bengal capital on September 4. Deputy Commandant of NDRF SS Khatri has said that the operation has ended on Thursday morning. However, startling details have emerged that the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) had ordered an audit but West Bengal Public Works Department in its report cited weaknesses or faults in the 54-year-old bridge. The report was submitted two months before the shocking incident took place. However, the PWD directed authorities concerted to carry out beautification and patchwork.
CM Mamta Banerjee has already ordered a probe into the matter. Minister for Urban Development and Municipal Affairs Firhad Hakim ha said, “We have held a meeting with all officers and have sought health reports of all flyovers and bridges immediately. Regarding Majherhat, a police investigation is on and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has already stated that the chief secretary will probe the matter.”
In its directive dated July 5, the CMO had ordered: “With the onset of monsoon it would be appropriate to undertake a quick review of condition of all bridges, flyovers, embankments, irrigation dams etc throughout the state. Such an exercise was made two years back. All the departments concerned must carry out necessary audit of condition of all these structures. So that the structures remain stable and no untoward incident takes place.”
Subsequently, all zonal chief engineers were given instructions to inspect and report on the condition of bridges and flyovers by July 13 with a final report to be prepared by July 16. On July 16, the Alipore division of the PWD invited bids after for surface repairing of a 1.2-km stretch between Taratolla flyover, Majherhat bridge and DH Road.
Almost a month later, on August 10, the PWD issued a memorandum ordering the beautification and painting of bridges and flyovers. “…it has been observed that the appearance of bridges and culverts are not up to the mark. Therefore it is decided that all bridges and culverts under the control of public works department, the government of West Bengal are to be painted after cleaning the same and repairing it if necessary,” the memorandum stated
“It is also true that six months back, the PWD gave a health certificate for Majherhat during a routine meeting. After the 2016 Vivekananda flyover collapse, it was decided that every six months, the health of flyovers and bridges will be reviewed. We have asked for reports from Indevar Pandey (who was PWD secretary six months ago) and present secretary Roy,” a Secretariat official was quoted as saying.