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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Collapse of Ahmedabad flyover: Third incident involving same company

A part of the 853-metre-long Mumatpura flyover bridge under construction gave way Tuesday night when a reinforced concrete box girder fell through during an obligatory stressing test.

Written by Sohini Ghosh , Avinash Nair | Ahmedabad |
December 24, 2021 4:07:27 am
The work site where the portion of flyover bridge collapsed. in Ahmedabad. Nirmal Harindran

The collapse of an under-construction flyover in Mumatpura, located in the upmarket South Bopal area of Ahmedabad, Tuesday night during a stress test was the third such incident involving the same company involved in building infrastructure, especially roads and bridges.

A part of the 853-metre-long Mumatpura flyover bridge under construction gave way Tuesday night when a reinforced concrete box girder fell through during an obligatory stressing test.

While none were injured and with the failure of the box girder in the stress test, earlier two other projects by the same construction firm — Ranjit Buildcon Limited — saw accidents, one leading to a death, in Surat.

The Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA), that had awarded the contract to Unjha-based Ranjit Buildcon Pvt Ltd, has written to the Roads and Building (R&B) Department of the Gujarat government to conduct a technical probe into the incident, said AUDA Chief Executive Authority A B Gor. This is AUDA’s lone project with the firm.

SB Vasava, secretary at R&B department said that the letter from the AUDA was forwarded to the urban development department which will soon be issuing a circular notifying the constitution of the team that will investigate the cause of collapse. The design of the bridge had been approved by the R& B department, Gor had told The Indian Express on Wednesday.

Ranjit Buildcon said the collapse could be due to a “mechanical or a design failure” and added that it cannot be a quality issue.

“It is too early to say why the accident occurred. It is only when R&B officials come and inspect the site that we will know the reason. It could be a mechanical or a design failure,” said Gaurav Patel, managing director of Ranjit Buildcon.

” It cannot be a quality issue as we have built over 200 bridges across the country and we are experts in the same,” he added.

When asked what caused the structure to fail on the Sardar Patel Ring Road, Patel said, “A stressing process was on when the accident happened. It is a process where we how much of stress it can withstand while carrying the required load… During this process, a vibration was felt and our workers climbed down from the structure. It is possible that some steel wires inside the structure would have broken and caused the jolt This usually does not happen,” he added.
When asked if the accident was in any way similar to the accident in Surat, Patel said, “As far as the flyover in Surat is concerned, the structures that we had built had sunk into the soil after the drainage structures in close vicinity collapsed, flooding the area.”

Ranjit Buildcon is currently building the approach on both sides of the railway bridge at Khokhra for the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), said incharge city engineer at AMC dealing with roads and bridge works, Hitesh Contractor.

“The central part of the overbridge is being dealt with by the Railways with the cost borne by them while the approach (incline to the overbridge) is being built by Ranjit Buildcon, at an estimated cost of Rs 20-25 crore. The expected date of completion is around May 2022 and the contract was awarded to Ranjit Buildcon prior to Covid-19, in late 2019, early 2020″, said Contractor.

With the Tuesday’s collapse, AUDA believes the completion of the bridge will be delayed by three to four months, against the earlier expected completion scheduled for April 2022.

In 2007 a span of a flyover being built on the Ring Road connecting Udhna Darwaja, Majura Gate and Athwa Lines in Surat, collapsed killing a labourer on the spot. Built by Ranjit Buildcon the 2,465-metre-long bridge costing Rs 32.93 crore was completed in 2008.

The then head of the bridges department at Surat Municipal Corporation Bharat Shah was suspended in this case. The second incident was in 2016 when the span of a flyover bridge collapsed at Anuvratdwar in Piplod area built on the Udhna-Magdalla road. Built at the cost of Rs 34.36 crore this bridge is 110-metre-long, and is now in use. Ranjit Buildcon, in the second case, rebuilt the span at the original cost.

The company is building three bridges in Surat, one at Sahara Darwaja, at Limbayat near Nilgiri society and third at Saroli near Jehangirpura, says Akshay Pandya head of bridge department of Surat Municipal Corporation- all projects costing Rs 200 crore
Founded by Ranchhod Patel, Ranjit Buildcon Ltd is a closely-held company managed by the promoters and their family members.

Registered with the Registrar of Companies in Ahmedabad Ranjit Buildcon was set up in 2006 and is largely focused on projects involving roads and bridges. As on 2020, more than 80 per cent of the company is concentrated in Gujarat with little exposure in states like Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Rajasthan, among others. A majority of the contracts executed by the company in Gujarat are those from state government, urban local bodies or public sector undertakings. In the 2011 Vibrant Gujarat Summit, the company signed a Rs 1500-crore MoU for a shipbuilding and repair yard at Dahej.

Apart from road projects, the company is also building viaducts and metro stations for the Ahmedabad Metro Rail project. Under the Phase-2 of the Ahmedabad Metro project, Ranjit Buildcon was awarded a Rs 418 crore contract to build 6.4 kilometer stretch of elevated viaduct and 5 stations. In the first phase of the project, the company is already building 4.85 kilometer elevated viaduct between Motera and Ranip on the North South corridor.

In Rajkot, the RBL is constructing four of the five flyover bridges for the Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC), cumulatively worth around Rs 240 crore. The company has also bagged contracts for the two under-construction water treatment plants of the RMC worth more than Rs 72 crore.

In Rajkot, RBL had constructed the existing flyover at KKV chowk and Mavdi railway overbridge in 2007-08, the first flyovers of the city.
“This agency does good quality work but time over-run is an issue with it. Therefore, one has to keep pressure on it from the beginning to get projects completed on time,” said a civic officer.

“But after all, it is a private contractor for whom profit is of paramount importance. It executes projects as per specifications only when we do constant monitoring and demand work as per agreed terms,” said another officer of the RMC.

The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) has engaged Ranjit Buildcon since 2018 for the construction of the 3.4 km flyover — the longest in the city — from Genda circle to Manisha cross road. The flyover, built at a cost of approximately Rs 350 crore is the only ongoing project by the company. However, the company has previously built the Kalali-Atladara railway over brigde as well as the Akota Dandia bazaar flyover

Apart from road, bridges and metro projects, the company is also into mining and irrigation projects. One of the subsidaries of the company — Ranjit Toll Road
Private Ltd — which had undertaken a road project on Build-Operate-Transfer basis is reimbursed every year by Gujarat State Road Development Corporation (GSRDC) for the toll on cars, jeeps and vans, which the state government has exempted from August 15, 2016. Among the major projects, Ranjit Buildcon built the “Narmada Maiya” bridge on the river Narmada that runs parallel to the historic golden bridge. The bridge was inaugurated by the then deputy chief minister Nitin Patel on July 12, 2021.

(WITH INPUTS FROM KAMAAL SAIYED in Surat, GOPAL KATESHIYA in Rajkot AND ADITI RAJA in Vadodara)

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