The body of one more person was recovered from under the collapsed Majerhat bridge in South Kolkata on Thursday, reported ANI. Three people have now been confirmed killed since the collapse on Tuesday.
The Public Works Department, which conducted an audit of bridges and flyovers in July as ordered by the chief minister’s office, reportedly failed to identify weaknesses or faults in the 54-year-old bridge, The Indian Express reported.
Unidentified officials in the state secretariat said the department had even given the bridge a fitness certificate after conducting a routine check and issued instructions to carry out beautification work.
“It is also true that six months back, the PWD gave a health certificate for Majerhat during a routine meeting,” a secretariat official said. “We have asked for reports from Indevar Pandey [who was the PWD secretary six months ago] and present secretary [Arnab] Roy.”
On July 5, the chief minister’s office had ordered a “quick review of condition of all bridges, flyovers, embankments, irrigation dams etc throughout the state” ahead of the monsoon. It had directed all departments concerned to carry out necessary audits.
In a subsequent letter, accessed by The Indian Express, PWD Secretary Arnab Roy directed all zonal chief engineers to inspect and report on the condition of bridges and flyovers by July 13. A final report was submitted three day later. However, the department failed to identify the deteriorating condition of the Majerhat bridge.
On August 10, the deparment issued a directive on the beautification of bridges and flyovers after “cleaning the same and repairing it if necessary”.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the investigation into the bridge collapse will take into account “earthquake-like vibrations because of the ongoing Metro construction work,” The Times of India reported on Thursday.
But senior Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd officials in charge of the Joka-BBD Bag Metro project rejected claims that Metro work could have led to the collapse. “The Metro foundation work was completed over a year ago,” said chief project manager AK Roy. “The Metro construction has nothing to do with the mid-span failure of the bridge’s girders. This is evident as the piers at both ends are intact.”