A portion of a flyover collapsed and a truck plunged 22 feet into a canal below causing serious injuries to three persons in the eastern part of the city in the early hours of Sunday.
The incident occurred at 4.30 a.m. on the flyover in the Ultadanga area that connects two important thoroughfares in the city — the Eastern Metropolitan bypass and the V.I.P. Road that leads to the city’s airport.
The collapse is particularly worrying as it has been just over two years since the flyover was inaugurated. Many, including local MLA Sujit Bose, wondered whether a major catastrophe was averted as the incident occurred at a time when traffic on the streets was sparse.
The vehicle, that has a Rajasthan registration plate, was carrying marble to the Topsia area of the city. While experts are yet to ascertain the reasons for the collapse, it is believed that the bolts on a structural bearing came loose causing the section to cave in, dragging the truck down with it.
A vital section of the flyover as it veers to the left, crossing the canal, was damaged. According to experts of the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA), a 40-metre section between two piers was affected.
Eyewitnesses said that they felt the ground shaking beneath them and rushed outside their homes to find a collapsed section of the flyover, a truck in the water, and the people inside seriously injured.
“We were sleeping, but I woke up when I felt that the floor was shaking. We rushed outside, but found instead that a large section of the flyover had collapsed and there were two injured men inside the truck. A third person was recovered from the waters,” said Kakoli Mondal who lives in a shanty nearby.
While the condition of driver Khaled Mohammad and his assistant Sheik Majid, who were rushed to the R.G. Kar Medical College and Hospital, was stable, that of their colleague, Saifuddin, who fell into the canal, was critical, police sources said.
Charge against LF government
Minister for Urban Development Firhad Hakim alleged here that the flyover had been “constructed in a hurry” so that it could be inaugurated during the tenure of the previous Left Front government.
The former Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had declared it open on January 5, 2011, months before elections to the Assembly were held in the State.
The Minister denied charges that the present government had not taken proper steps when cracks had been detected on the structure.
“A crack had been noticed a year-and-a-half ago. A team of experts from Jadavpur University had inspected the affected portion,” Mr. Hakim said. There had been no lapses in maintenance and the problem probably lay in its “bolting system.”
Strong penal action will be taken against those found responsible for the collapse. The State government will ask a “third-party — either from Jadavpur, Bengal Engineering and Science University, or some other place” to inquire into the matter, he said.
Senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and Mr. Hakim’s predecessor in the previous Left Front government, Ashok Bhattacharya, denied allegations that the construction had been rushed.
Keywords: Kolkata flyover accident