The police have registered an FIR over Tuesday’s flyover collapse against officials of the Uttar Pradesh State Bridge Corporation Ltd, a government-run entity that has faced criticism also in the past over the standard of its work. The corporation received flak earlier after some bridges built by it developed cracks.
There has also been controversy over managing director Rajan Mittal, who was removed from the post by the previous Samajwadi party government but reinstated after the BJP came to power in the state. The FIR was lodged at the Sigra police station here a day after a portion of the flyover being built by the corporation fell on passing vehicles.
Officials said on Tuesday that 18 people were killed when the structure collapsed. But Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who visited Varanasi today and met the injured, put the toll at 15. Apart from the high-level probe announced by Adityanath on Tuesday, a magisterial inquiry has also begun. Additional District Magistrate Manoj Kumar Rai will submit his report within three days. The FIR has been lodged against UP State Bridge Corporation officers, engineers and contractors for negligence. It also invokes the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984.
It was registered on the complaint of Roadways police outpost in-charge Dhananand Tripathi. Another FIR was registered against corporation officials in February when police examined the construction site and found that the builders were not following safety measures such as putting up proper barricades and laying out a service lane, Senior Superintendent of Police R K Bhardwaj said. The police had, however, not curbed traffic from passing under the flyover.
Four officials including Chief Project Manager H C Tiwari were suspended yesterday. Today, a class 4 employee at the local hospital was suspended following allegations that he was demanding bribes to release the bodies of the victims kept at the mortuary. The corporation, which once earned kudos bagging projects not only in other states but also in Iraq, Yemen and Nepal, has been at the receiving end recently, a senior official of the PWD department said. In 2010, the 1,087- metre Chillgahat bridge connecting Fatehpur with Bundelkhand region, built at a cost of Rs 650 crore, showed cracks within 13 days of its inauguration, he recalled.
In 2016, a cavity developed on Lohia bridge over the Gomti in Lucknow. Another flyover near the Polytechnic Crossing also developed cracks and was closed to traffic for about a year, he said. In both cases inquiries were ordered but no concrete action was taken, he said. The official said the corporation’s MD, Rajan Mittal, was removed from this post during the term of the Akhilesh Yadav government, following complaints. But he was reinstated when the BJP government came to power last year.
In addition, he was given the charge of another construction agency, UP Rajkiya Nirman Nigam recently. The general secretary of the UP Engineers Association, S S Niranjan, said the probe should also examine whether regular meetings on traffic management were convened by the district administration and precautions taken for construction work in busy areas. Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said today that the state government will set up a “bridge safety cell” to regularly inspect flyovers and bridges.