VMC on face-saving mode, Opposition up in arms

Political uproar within civic body; R&D department to submit report today

By: Express News Service | Vadodra | Published: July 21, 2014 3:06:53 am
The perimeter of a newly inaugurated flyover that connects Manjalpur with Vadsar in Vadodara fell apart on Saturday.(Bhupendra Rana) The perimeter of a newly inaugurated flyover that connects Manjalpur with Vadsar in Vadodara fell apart on Saturday. (Bhupendra Rana)

The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC), which was left red-faced after the approach road of the newly inaugurated Manjalpur-Kalali Vishwamitri bridge caved in on Saturday, is now busy preparing its defense.

While the Congress demanded a vigilance department inquiry against the “corruption” within VMC’s ruling party and executive officers, the Municipal Commissioner will present a report of the structural auditors of the Roads and Buildings Department of the Gujarat government, who visited the site on Sunday.

The caving in of the approach road of the Manjalpur-Atladara bridge, which was inaugurated by Chief Minister Anandi Patel as recently as July 12, has created a political uproar within the civic body. While corporators of both parties are questioning the “quality” of the material used for building the bridge that failed to survive the first monsoon, a team of structural engineers of the R&B department visited the site, along with city executive engineers on Sunday.

Even as VMC officers refused to divulge details of the primary findings of the inspection, sources said the R&B department has questioned the city officials about the “sub-standard” construction material used for building the bridge.

VMC Executive Engineer P M Patel said the R&B department will submit its report on Monday. Patel said, “We do not yet know what they have concluded. The bridge got a third-party certificate of structure strength, after which we had gone ahead and opened it for public.” Patel, however, refused to comment on what could have caused the incident.

Meanwhile, Congress has placed the responsibility of “corruption” that led to the incident on the Municipal Commissioner and the VMC’s elected wing.

Opposition leader in VMC (Congress) Chandrakant Shrivastav, who demanded a vigilance inquiry into the incident, at the General Board meeting late on Saturday evening, said, “The Chief Minister inaugurated the bridge without even looking into how and where it was made. Fortunately, since the bridge has almost negligible traffic, owing to its location, there was no major tragedy. It is clear that there was corruption in the construction of this bridge, as is with most other projects under the Gujarat Model. There has been no land acquisition for this bridge nor any supervision for the construction. They have also altered the course of the Vishwamitri flowing under it. I will demand a separate investigation into that. The connecting road on both ends has sunk, so it means that if there was a truck running on it at the time, it could have resulted in a disaster. The elected wing as well as the executive officers, including the Municipal Commissioner must take moral responsibility for this.”

The VMC General Board  meeting, which is to be held on Monday evening, is expected to be stormy over the issue, as the R&B department’s report will be presented at the meeting. Shrivastav, however, says that since the R&B department is under the state government, its report cannot be relied on.

Demanding an audit of all existing bridges in Ahmedabad, City Congress president Narendra Ravat said, “It is well known that almost all bridges in Vadodara have faulty designs and are tragedies waiting to strike. Those guilty of this corruption must be punished.”

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