The Majherhat bridge collapse has brought its maintenance agency ~ the Public Works Department (PWD) ~ under the scanner with questions being raised on its diligence in performing the task. The collapse has further brought into question a repair job that was carried out on the same bridge last month.
Sources said the PWD engineers repaired the stretch through bitumen coating. It is being alleged that the work was completed hastily and had it been done properly, the tragedy could have been avoided.
In April, the PWD’s Alipore Division had invited tenders for the “surface repairing” of a 1.2 km stretch between Taratala flyover, Majherhat Bridge and DH Road. The work included “patch repair or patch maintenance”, “bituminous surfacing work with bituminous thickness less than 40 mm”, “repair & rehabilitation” of any bridge and added that the “defect liability period of the work shall be one year from the actual completion of the work”. The estimated amount mentioned in the tender was Rs 16.18 lakh.
According to a PWD engineer, at the time of the repair there had was no sign of any structural weaknesses. The repair work was for the potholes that had developed on the road due to heavy traffic movement.
Meanwhile, eyewitnesses and local people apprehended that the metro work that is under way close to the bridge could be a major reason behind the weakening the bridge which could have led to the collapse.
Metro officials, however, ruled out the apprehension saying that the collapse of the bridge is not connected with the metro project from Joka to BBD Bag. “The metro construction site is too far away from the bridge to have had any impact on it,” said a Metro official.
A senior PWD official said that an inquiry is underway to ascertain the actual reason behind the collapse.
Constructed more than 40 years ago, the bridge required regular inspection and maintenance as 10,000 to 12,000 vehicles ply on it every day.
It appears that the loadbearing capacity of the bridge had deteriorated since it is such an old structure, as a result of which it was damaged, said a PWD source.
A plan was undertaken for repairing all the damaged flyovers across the state in phases. A PWD engineer said that the repairing work is underway on some flyovers.