On the afternoon of 31 March, 2016, as street vendors, pedestrians, cars, taxis, buses and trucks went about their business; two parts of an under-construction 2.2-km-long Vivekananda Flyover in North Kolkata collapsed causing death and havoc. The under construction flyover was in one of the busiest and most congested market areas of BurraBazar in North Kolkata. The collapse lead to 25 deaths with three more bodies recovered on Friday, 1 April 2016. More than 80 people have been injured, 7 of whom are critical.
- The construction of the flyover was started by the Left Government in 2009.
- The aim of the flyover was to reduce the congestion and ease traffic through the densely crowded Burrabazaar area.
- It is a Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority project that was nearing completion.
- Indian company IVRCL, with its headquarters in Hyderabad, was building the 2.2 km Vivekananda Road flyover.
- Initially the deadline was set at 18 months from the launch, but even after seven years, only 60% of the work had been completed.
- The entire project had a budget of nearly Rs 165 crore.
- Labourers had completed pouring concrete into a framework of steel girders just hours before the 100m stretch of the overpass collapsed during the heavy mid-day rush, crushing pedestrians and vehicles.
- Rescue operations got underway immediately with the NDRF, CRPF, Police, the Army and hundreds of locals joining hands to help evacuate the survivors and retrieve dead bodies.
- Disaster management and trauma care teams joined the rescue and relief operations.
- Dozens were trapped and the rescuers had to use sniffer dogs and special cameras to find trapped people.
- Amidst crushed vehicles and the sight of bloody legs of people trapped under the collapsed girders and concrete slabs; saws, small cranes and bare hands dug into the debris to reach out to the survivors.
- A local TV footage showed auto rickshaws and a crowd of people getting obliterated under the collapse.
- As of 1 April 2016, Friday, at least 25 were reported dead, while 80 were injured, 7 of whom were in a critical condition.
- Rescue teams had given up hope of finding any more survivors as of Friday.
The Reactions & Actions Taken
Amid blame games of multiple political parties, and K.P. Rao, a representative of IVRCL saying that the disaster was an “act of God”, following have been the actions and reactions initiated henchforth:
- Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the dead, Rs 2 lakh for seriously injured, Rs 1 lakh for those with minor injuries. Treatment in government hospitals will be provided free of cost.
- 62 families living in buildings near the flyover have been asked to vacate temporarily for the safe removal of collapsed debris.
- Legal head of IVRCL expressed shock over the collapse and said it was a mere accident.
- On Friday, three officials of the IVRCL group including the project-in-charge, an engineer and an administrative officer, were arrested in Kolkata.
- Two more officials were detained in the IVRCL headquarters at Hyderabad.
- A case of murder and attempt to murder has been filed against IVRCL.
- IVRCL has already been under scrutiny over its track record and debts.
- Defending the company against the allegation of negligence, the legal adviser to IVRCL, Sheela Peddinti, hinted that the collapse of the flyover could be because of a bomb blast as there was evidence like shattered glass pointing towards the same.
- There is also a school of thought among the locals that the government wanted to expedite the construction with the elections around the corner, which resulted in shoddy work leading to lack of quality and safety control.
- Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has promised stringent action against those responsible for the disaster.
Kolkata flyover collapse : Emergency Numbers
Control room numbers : 1070, 033-22143526/ 033-22535185/ 033-22145664
Fax : 033-22141378
Police Helpline : 03322143024/ 9432624365
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