Ahigh-powered team of experts from the IIT, Kharagpur is expected to be assigned to scrutinise the structural strength of the affected block of the heritage Burdwan Junction Railway Station where the portico and a portion of the front of the building collapsed yesterday evening triggering panic and leaving at least one person dead.
The Eastern Railway authorities, meanwhile, have set up a three-member inquiry committee to unearth the cause of the disaster and, according to senior Railway officials, the committee has been asked to submit its report within 10 days. The General Manager, Eastern Railway, Suneet Sharma, arrived at the Burdwan Junction Railway Station to take stock of the situation today.
Sharma said: “We shall dismantle the endangered portion of the building as would be prescribed by the structural engineers and a new building will be set up.” The GM added: “As the probe is ongoing, it’s premature to assign responsibility but we can assure that every aspect suspected to be linked to the disaster would be brought under the scanner.”
Members of the committee will sit at the Burdwan Station Manager’s office tomorrow afternoon for two hours to record the statements of the eye-witnesses of the disaster. The DRM, Howrah, Ishaq Khan, had arrived at the spot within three hours of the incident yesterday.
He also accompanied the GM today and said: “The Railway Vikas Nigam Limited has already been assigned to dismantle the vintage Road Over Bridge (RoB) besides the station building built during the British era.”
Incidentally, in 1996, the Railway authorities had conceived a plan to erect a new RoB replacing the brick-built British era bridge and in 2007 a four-lane state-of-the-art RoB was planned, which saw completion in October, 2019. The Burdwan Junction is a vital railway station on the Howrah-Delhi Railway line and is the third most busy railway terminal after Howrah and Sealdah in the state.
The first passenger train in Eastern India ran from Howrah to Hooghly on 15 August, 1854 and in 1855 the tracks were extended up to Raniganj covering Burdwan town. The affected building structure, however, was erected in 1905, the DRM said. At 8:05 p.m. yesterday, the disaster occurred when the hanging roof of the portico collapsed followed by falling of the horizontal sections of the front of the building accommodating the Enquiry counter and located close to the Platform No. 1.
Two persons had suffered injuries when concrete chunks fell on them. One of them succumbed to their injuries at the Burdwan Medical College and Hospital. “The condition of Hapna Tudu, the other injured, is stable,” said a Railway source.
The Railways had initiated renovation work of the station building and workers engaged for the purpose had used heavy hammers to remove plaster from the pillars, which according to a section of Railway engineers, had caused excessive vibration, damaging the foundation of the already weakened pillars.
“Due to the winter cold along with the unseasonal rain, the iron nets holding the cement mixture of the naked pillars got shrunk, which might have caused the disaster,” a Railway Engineer told The Statesman.