Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday formed a committee to look into the Majherhat bridge collapse incident that killed three people and left at least 27 injured.
Monitoring cells have been set up to inspect bridges and flyovers in the city, enforce ban on entry of 10 and 20-wheeler heavy vehicles, check overloading of vehicles to prevent recurrence of the incident, the chief minister said at a press conference Thursday.
It has also been decided that repair work in 20 bridges and flyovers in the city that have become weak will also start, she said.
The decisions were taken at an emergency meeting Mamata held with various departments, including Public Works Department (PWD), Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA), irrigation department and others.
“We have set up a high-powered investigation committee headed by the chief secretary, Malay De, to look into the Majherhat incident and file a report as soon as possible. The committee will start work from today. Strict action will be taken against those found guilty. We have also decided to form special inspection and monitoring cells under PWD, irrigation and KMDA to inspect bridges in the state under those departments,” Mamata said at a press conference at state secretariat (Nabanna).
“The Metro Railways has been asked to stop work near Majherhat bridge till the committee probing its collapse submits its report. Residents have complained of vibrations during the construction work. It could also be one of the reasons. However, the panel will probe the role of both the PWD as well as the Metro construction authorities,” said Mamata.
Soon after a portion of the bridge collapsed on Tuesday, Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), executing the construction of the Joka-BBD Bag metro corridor passing through the vicinity of Majherhat bridge, had said that “there is no connection of metro construction” with the incident.
When asked to comment on the RVNL statement, the chief minister said, “How can they say so within 12 hours of the incident?”
The chief minister also said that the police and the state transport department have been asked to check overloading of vehicles. The government has also planned to allow only light vehicles to ply on some of the flyovers and bridges in the city, she said.
“Heavy vehicles with 10 or 20 wheels are damaging the roads, flyovers and bridges. We will not allow such heavy vehicles to enter the city and I have already instructed the police to take action accordingly. Such vehicles are generally used by the port authorities but they already have a dedicated railway wagon system which they can use. Only trucks carrying essential commodities will be allowed. I will not take chance with people’s lives,” she said.
Mamata said that restrictions will be enforced on patchworks on bridges and flyovers. “Patchworks will not be allowed anymore. We have asked the police to relocate people living under the bridges and flyovers. In areas where the flyovers are under the jurisdiction of the Army and the Railways, we will talk to the authorities concerned,” the chief minister added.
“We have received a report that 20 bridges and flyovers in the city are unsafe and weak. One must keep in mind that these bridges were built years back. We have told to initiate repair work after diverting the traffic. Some of these bridges, including those in Ultadanga and Santragachi, are weak. However, we need permission from the Railways to repair these two. In Sealdah, we could not start repair work since the shopkeepers and hawkers under the bridge are unwilling to move, even when we offered to relocate them. Everyone should keep in mind public safety. We are going to request them again. Allocating funds is not a problem since public safety is prime,” said Mamata.
Regarding Vivekananda flyover, the chief minister said, “The reports we got from various agencies, including IIT-Kharagpur, did not give a concrete solution. If we bring down the structure, it may affect the neighbouring houses. If we try and construct it further, it might fall down. We have planned to bring in experts and conduct another round of inspection,” the chief minister said.