About 50 metres of road caved in on National Highway 117 in Diamond Harbour this morning. The incident occurred near jetty where a beautification work was going on a stretch of about 120 metres along the banks of river Hooghly.
The caving in occurred at around six in the morning. There was no vehicular movement on the highway at that early hour and hence any kind of untoward incident was prevented. No casualties were reported in the incident.
The road was immediately blocked from both sides and the repairing work started within hours after the portion of the road caved in and chunks of concrete was swallowed up in the tidal waves.
Engineers rushed to the spot to oversee the condition of the road. Diamond Harbour MLA, Dipak Halder, zilla shabhadhipati Shamima Sheikh along with the representatives of the administration visited the spot to take stock of the situation.
“The affected portion of the road has been blocked and closed for traffic movement. An alternate arrangement for transport has been made as this is not the only way to Kolkata. Commuters coming from Sagar, Pathar Pratima, Namkhana, Bakkhali will have no problem in reaching Kolkata,” said Shamima Sheikh. She has also said that traffic movement for smaller vehicles will be resumed within 48 hours. Heavy vehicles have, however, been barred from plying on the road.
According to sources, Rs 25 crore was allocated from the MP LAD fund for the beautification project of the river bank and the stone-laying foundation that took place in last December.
Three departments namely tourism, PWD and irrigation were jointly executing the beautification project and its deadline for its completion in 2020.
One km stretch, along river Hooghly, from the jetty to the picnic spot of Muktangan is being developed. A part of the park is proposed to be in the huge waterbody and the park will have facilities for boating, various lighting arrangements as well as classy restaurants. A hanging balcony would be constructed along the river, stretching for two km from the jetty to Kellar Math. The balcony will have a restaurant and a toilet as well to make things comfortable for sightseers.
The construction work had been going on for the last one and a half months. No labourers were present on the spot when the incident took place.
It was, however, learnt from an official in Kolkata Port trust (KoPT) that “the construction work was being carried out without informing or taking any permission from the KoPT. Under the Major Port Trust Act, Section 46, no one can make such constructions without taking permission of the port authority.” It may be mentioned that the Section 46 states ‘Power to permit erection of private wharfs, etc. within a port is subject to conditions.’
He stated: “No person shall make, erect or fix within the limits of a port or port approaches any wharf, dock, quay, stage, jetty,pier,erection or mooring except with the previous permission in writing of the Board and subject to such conditions, if any, as the Board may specify’. The second section states ‘if any person makes, erects or fixes any wharf dock, quay, stage, jetty, pier, erection or mooring in contravention of sub-section (1) , the Board may , by notice,require such person to remove it within such time as may be specified in the notice and if the person fails so to remove it, the Board may cause it to be removed at the expense of that person.’
Some local residents have alleged that the road caved in due to the erosion caused by the huge drilling machine.