Varanasi flyover collapse: Initial probe identifies 6 lapses in construction, advises strict action against high-ranking officials

Uttar Pradesh government's preliminary probe into the collapse of a flyover in Varanasi where 18 people died has identified a few lapses in its construction.

Rescue and relief work in progress at the flyover-collapse site in Varanasi. PTI

Rescue and relief work in progress at the flyover-collapse site in Varanasi. PTI

The report, whose copy is in possession of Firstpost, mentioned the following lapses:
1. The flyover's designs were not approved by the competent authority.
2. Support beams between flyover's columns were not attached to cross beams.
3. Non-maintenance of records that makes it tough to ascertain whether cement, sand and stones with which the support beam was made were mixed in the right proportion. Also, no information about if competent authorities were regularly keeping an eye on this aspect.
4. The construction unit does not have a checklist of concrete mixture that was used.
5. Inspecting officers did not issue comments after inspection of the construction work.
6. No barricading of the area where construction was under way and not making an alternative route available for motorists.

The report recommended strict action against Uttar Pradesh State Bridge Corporation (UPSBC) managing director Rajan Mittal, former chief project manager Gendalal, project managers KR Sudan and Lal Chand and additional project manager Rajendra Pal. Mittal was ousted from the position after the incident. Now, there is a chance that their names will be included in the FIR. Passing the blame According to letters in possession of Firstpost, the Varanasi police registered an FIR and shot off five letters to the UPSBC since November regarding traffic diversion. According to Deepak Ratan, Inspector General, Varanasi Range, the police requested UPSBC to ensure safe traffic regulations at the construction site but that was not followed, because of which the traffic police deployed its 17 employees in three different shifts. "No matter what the reason, for us this is a case of negligence", Ratan said.

Speaking with Firstpost, Sudan denied the allegation about non-diversion of traffic. He said the corporation sent letters to the commissioner of Varanasi Range and traffic police to divert traffic and move fruit sellers from the construction site. He said the authorities ignored UPSBC's letters.

"Whatever has happened is very unfortunate. The death toll would not have increased if the Varanasi district administration had paid heed to our letters where we requested for diversions and other things", Sudan added.

'Wait for final report'

Requesting anonymity, a senior officer of the state Public Works Department (PWD) told Firstpost that though the preliminary investigation found these flaws, a thorough investigation was still needed.

"An innocent [person] should not be made guilty and the culprit should not be spared. A deep investigation should be done. The team that probed this was given only 48 hours time and it is not possible to explore all the possible angles in a small span of time", the senior officer posted in Lucknow said.

Civil construction expert Vinay Gupta, who consulted with the UPSBC on multiple occasions, said it would be premature to say anything.

"Investigations take more time than construction and there could be many reasons or one combined reasons [sic] for the collapse. We have been getting information that it happened due to the storm but let me tell you that storms keep occurring. There could have been the problem with the bearings, problem with the peer caps or the concrete that was used in casting the beam that came down", he said.

On Thursday, the UPSBC's ousted managing director stated that gusty winds during the freak storm in north India was responsible for the flyover's collapse. He said the winds (whose speed crossed 100 kilometres per hour) dislocated the support beam, which led to its crash as the flyover was still under construction and not equipped to withstand such a strong impact.

Mittal was previously removed from the post in 2014 by then chief minister Akhilesh Yadav after it was alleged that he favoured a company for a contract worth Rs 1,200 crore. He was reinstated in dual positions of UPSBC managing director and Uttar Pradesh Rajkiya Nirman Nigam by the present dispensation.

An under-construction flyover near Cantonment railway station in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency collapsed Tuesday evening. State-run Uttar Pradesh State Bridge Corporation (UPSBC) was building the flyover.

After the accident, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had set up a three-member team and sought a report in 48 hours.

 


Updated Date: May 18, 2018 17:02 PM

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