Varanasi: Rs 129 Crore Flyover Under Construction For 2 Years Collapses & Kills At Least 15
Part of an under-construction flyover collapsed in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, killing at least 15 and injuring dozens. The 2.2 km long flyover was being constructed from Chowkaghat to Lehertara area. This route is, perhaps, the busiest in Varanasi as both the railway and bus station are on the same road.
At around 5.30 pm on Tuesday evening when some interlocking work was underway on a part of the bridge, it collapsed. The rescue operation took more than an hour to begin in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency as there were no contingency plans and rescue cranes could only reach the site after demolishing a nearby boundary wall.
A resident of the area lamented the fact that there was no route diversion provided by the city administration, and service lanes were too narrow to handle even the day-to-day traffic. In the aftermath of the tragedy, ambulances and other rescue services were stuck in the resulting traffic bottleneck in this heavily congested area which sees a lot of simultaneous vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
The locals who were present at the scene tried to remove debris and rescue the trapped people before NDRF and other rescue services arrived.
Rescue & relief operations underway at the site of Varanasi under-construction flyover collapse incident. 16 bodies have been recovered till now, death toll expected to rise. 3 people rescued. pic.twitter.com/hsTq0F1Uob
— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) May 15, 2018
Several construction workers who were working on the site were among the dead and the critically injured. More than 10 vehicles were trapped and crushed by the falling debris. Among the dead were also two NDRF jawans who were travelling in a city bus. The PM expressed his condolences and support to the people of Varanasi.
Extremely saddened by the loss of lives due to the collapse of an under-construction flyover in Varanasi. I pray that the injured recover soon. Spoke to officials and asked them to ensure all possible support to those affected.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 15, 2018
UP CM Adityanath reached the scene within a few hours and met the injured in the city’s Kabir Chaura hospital. He also announced Rs 5 lakh and Rs 2 lakh compensation for the dead and the critically injured respectively. CM Adityanath told the media a three-member committee has been constituted to report on the incident and appropriate action will be taken against those found responsible.
I immediately asked Deputy CM & concerned minister to personally monitor rescue & relief works. A committee has also been constituted which will give a report in 48 hours: UP CM Yogi Adityanath after meeting the victims of Varanasi under-construction flyover collapse incident pic.twitter.com/Qyyv8iJnL7
— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) May 15, 2018
4 officials of UP State Bridge Corporation suspended
The flyover has been under-construction since 2016 at an estimated total cost of Rs 129 crores. The portion of the bridge that collapsed was laid only two months ago. This bridge is the responsibility of UP State Bridge Corporation and was scheduled to be inaugurated in December 2018.
As reported by News18, UP Deputy CM, Keshav Maurya said from the scene of the accident, “Project manager (PM) HC Tiwari, APM KR Sudan, assistant engineer Rajesh Singh and junior engineer Lal Chand were suspended with immediate effect. A three-member technical committee has been constituted to carry out a probe and submit report within a fortnight.” He also said that a Setu Suraksha Cell (Bridge Safety Cell) would be formed to monitor and prevent these kinds of incidents from occurring.
The Logical Indian take
So many lives were lost because of inadequate infrastructure and mismanagement by the administration. Standard safety protocols were either non-existent or not followed.
Yet again, no emergency services were on standby, and no alternate traffic route was provided ever since construction first began in 2016. Condolences and compensations, though appreciated, are only a band-aid solution to a much bigger problem.
Hindustan Times reported that the UP State Bridge Corporation has come under scrutiny twice before. Once in 2010 when a bridge in the Fatehpur-Bundelkhand region cracked within 13 days of its inauguration and in 2016, when Lohia bridge in Lucknow developed a cavity. In both cases, no actual action was taken other than the usual assortment of committees, probes and reports.