Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday visited the site of flyover collapse in Kolkata, followed by meeting the victims at the city hospital. At least 26 people were killed and scores left injured after an under-construction flyover collapsed two days ago at busy Burra Bazar area in West Bengal capital.
Speaking very briefly to the press, Rahul Gandhi said “it is a tragedy” and that he doesn’t want to politicise the issue.
Incidentally, Congress party’s state leaders have been less than unsparing to the ruling Trinamool Congress and the sitting CM Mamata Banerjee, alleging the state government of overlooking the negligence on the part of construction firm.
“If the plans were faulty, then why didn’t the TMC government change it?” WBPCC president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had questioned earlier.
The incident, with state assembly polls kick-starting from Monday, has put the ruling party in a spot of bother with several opposition parties taking them on. Union Minister and senior BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi demanding CBI probe had even accused the state government of “criminal negligence” in relief work.
The allegations were, however, dismissed by the TMC, with its national spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien terming Naqvi’s statements as “cheap politics” during the election season.
Meanwhile, three top officials of a Hyderabad-based construction company IVRCL were arrested on Friday and slapped with murder charges. Kolkata police had detained 10 officials of the construction company IVRCL’s Kolkata office for questioning and later arrested three of them.
The three – Assistant General Manager Mallikaarjun, Assistant Manager Debjyoti Manjumdar and Structure Manager Pradip Kumar Saha – were arrested under IPC sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) and others.
Besides, the state government has also suspended a chief engineer and an executive engineer of the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority who were involved in the construction of the flyover pending completion of the probe which was announced by the state government.
About a 60-metre-long stretch of the 2.2 km flyover under construction crashed down Thursday afternoon on a congested road intersection at Burra Bazar leaving 26 dead so far and at least 88 wounded. Forensic experts have also visited the site and collected samples of materials used for the construction for examination.
In their defence, an official of IVRCL dubbed the flyover collapse as an “act of God” soon after the incident. On Friday, under pressure and strong criticism IVRCL’s legal team head P Sita said, “It is an accident”.
“An act of God was just an expression only to describe that it is under no one’s control,” she said when asked to clarify the remarks.
Ruling out use of substandard materials, P Sita said, “…100 per cent no issues with regard to quality. It is the same material, as was used to construct the 59 sections earlier with approval, with which the 60th section (which collapsed) was built … Unfortunately it collapsed.”
Meanwhile, the rescue operation at the site has ended but NDRF’s special relief teams are kept on standby.
“We have thoroughly examined the area and there is no evidence of any dead or live victim. But, despite this, all the 10 teams sent for the task will be on standby till the West Bengal government asks them to retreat,” NDRF Director General O P Singh told the press.
(With inputs from the PTI)