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Varanasi bridge collapse: Technical committee pegs failure to cast cross beams as reason for accident

Lucknow: Failure to cast cross beams for locking the girders led to the collapse of a portion of a Railway Over-Bridge (ROB) in Varanasi in May as the structure was left exposed to external forces which left 15 dead in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's parliamentary constituency, a probe into the incident has found.

The technical committee set up by Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya to go into the causes leading to the collapse submitted its report last week. The panel has also mentioned that uninterrupted traffic flow on the busy road was the main reason for generating vibrations that may have led to the collapse.

The report, accessed by PTI, was submitted to Principal Secretary, Public Works Department (PWD), Sanjay Agarwal, in the absence of the deputy chief minister who is presently admitted to a Delhi hospital.

It states that five girders cast between pier 79 and pier 80 in the months of February-March remained free as the required cross beams were not cast. Since free girders remained sensitive to the vibrations caused by uninterrupted traffic on both sides and wind forces, "there is strong possibility that they (girders) registered some trembling and finally slipped," the report says.

Locals and rescue teams gather near crushed vehicles after a portion of an under-construction flyover collapsed in Varanasi on Tuesday. PTI

File Image of Varanasi bridge collapse on 15 May. PTI

Going into the technical aspects of the incident, the traverse displacement of the girders caused by external forces of movement of traffic and recent storms kept accumulating and they collapsed, the report concludes.

PWD's chief engineer (Bridges) YK Gupta and chief engineer, Allahabad Circle, SK Gupta were two members of the committee that conducted the inquiry after a third member appointed by the deputy chief minister excused himself from it.

Two beams of the 2261-metre flyover between Chokaghat and Lahartara being constructed by UP State Bridge Corporation at a cost of Rs 129 crore had collapsed on 15 May.

A case was registered against Bridge Corporation officials and employees working on the site, under Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), Section 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) of the IPC following a complaint by Roadways police outpost in-charge.

However, no one was named in the FIR.

The project manager and other officials were suspended and the government also shifted the then Managing Director of Bridge Corporation Rajan Mittal.

Mittal, was removed from his post during the term of the Akhilesh Yadav government following complaints but he was reinstated when the BJP government came to power in 2017.

The flyover collapse had triggered a blame game between the local administration and the corporation.

Varanasi Senior Superintendent of Police RK Bhardwaj said an inspection of the construction site about two months ago showed that the builders were not following safety measures like putting up proper barricades and laying out a service lane.

Mittal had however refuted the charges and asserted that he was is in possession of five letters sent to Superintendent of Police, Traffic, between November 2017 and March 2018 for regulating traffic and removing encroachments in the area.

The corporation, which once earned kudos for bagging projects not only in other states but also in Iraq, Yemen and Nepal, has been receiving flak recently.

In the aftermath of the collapse, chief minister Yogi Adityanath asked the state PWD and other agencies carrying out construction works to take steps to prevent recurrence of such incidents. He issued a checklist to be strictly followed in all construction works. The points in the list included proper barricading of the construction site and making alternative arrangement for traffic movement.

On the basis of his directive, traffic has been totally diverted from the area where the accident took place. The chief minister had also directed authorities concerned to make third-party inspection necessary of all important works to ensure quality.


Updated Date: Jun 11, 2018 21:30 PM

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