Concreting work was faulty and inferior, allege people

Shocked at a large chunk of concrete over the Moolampilly-Kothad bridge falling away on Wednesday, different organisations have demanded a vigilance probe into what they termed as sub-quality work adopted for constructing the Vallarpadam-Kalamassery Road (NH 47-C) and the numerous bridges en route.

General secretary of Ernakulam District Residents Associations’ Apex Council (EDRAAC), A. Ajith Kumar demanded a vigilance probe into the construction of the road and bridges.

“The officials concerned must be suspended from service till the inquiry report is out. This must be done since it is evident that they were the ones who certified over a year ago that the bridges and road are safe for vehicles,” Mr Ajith Kumar said.

The caving in of a portion of a bridge left a gaping hole of over a metre by a metre.

Since more areas are prone to give away, the bridge has been barricaded and declared out-of-bounds for vehicles. Vehicles are being routed through the parallel bridge.

The damage to the bridge shows that the concreting work was faulty and inferior, said Francis Kalathumkal, general convener of the Moolampilly Coordination Committee.

“A vigilance probe will be able to uncover the reason behind the hyped-up cost of the project as well. We had given a representation demanding this to Chief Minister Oomen Chandy some time back,” he said.

He added that the road is sinking at an alarming rate.

This has resulted in there being a huge gap between each bridge and the approach roads, often causing accidents.

“This is a classic example of projects that turn into milch cows for unscrupulous stakeholders. The NHAI intends to collect toll and has begun work on a toll booth ,” he said.

Apt examples are a few underpasses which have a very low roof, so much so that people are unable to open their umbrellas while walking through them. Water logging because of unscientific construction is another major problem. These point to slack supervision and monitoring of the works, Mr. Kalathumkal said.

Stress blamed

The NHAI’s Kochi project director C. T. Abraham attributed “expansion due to stress” as a possible reason for a large chunk of concrete giving away on the bridge. “We have a three-tier system to execute works. Here, we deputed Lea Associates with the (technical) consultancy work, while Suncon-Soma – a joint-venture firm, executed the construction works. We have to probe whether the incident took place because of a problem with the design or with the execution. The agency concerned will have to repair and restore the bridge,” Mr. Abraham said.

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