The inquiry committee headed by the state chief secretary, Mr Malay De, probing the Majherhat bridge collapse incident has reportedly found eight government officials, including the engineering-in-chief of state public works department (PWD), negligent in their duty of maintenance of the bridge.
According to sources at the state secretariat, the preliminary findings of the committee indicated that the officials were not active enough in conducting proper inspections and maintenance of the bridge. These officials are engineering-in-chief, sub-assistant engineer and executive engineer of Alipore division, superintending engineer posted at Nabanna and chief engineer of south division of PWD, who is in charge of maintenance of the bridge, and three finance department officers.
The finance department officials were said to be sitting on files relating to the maintenance of the bridge since 2016. The probe report has also recommended strong action against these officials.
On Friday, chief minister Mamata Banerjee admitted that the state PWD was responsible for the collapse of the Majherhat bridge on Diamond Harbour Road on 4 September, simultaneously hinting that vibrations caused by Metro Railway’s ongoing project might have also led to the incident.
“The PWD can’t deny its responsibility for the collapse of the Majherhat Bridge. Concerned officials of the PWD were dillydallying with files since 2016 causing unnecessary delay for the maintenance of the bridge. They could not take precautions and we have seized files relating to the bridge,” Miss Banerjee said on Friday.
The chief minister has also assured that the concerned officials of the PWD would also not be spared if they are found negligent in duty following the inquiry but at the same time, she has given a clean chit to the concerned minister, Mr Arup Biswas, one of her close lieutenants.
The government has also decided to construct a new bridge on the same site within one year after dismantling the collapsed one.
The state government contacted Eastern Railway (ER) authorities on Saturday seeking their cooperation to start the process of dismantling the collapsed bridge which passes over the Majherhat railway tracks under the ER.