The railways had alerted the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) about weak support beams, exposed reinforcements and even cracks on piers of the 50-year-old Majerhat Bridge in the city which collapsed Tuesday killing one person, trapping several others and crushing many vehicles.
The road bridge runs over the Majherhat Railway Station on the Sealdah-Budge Budge line.
In the letter to KMDA, dated 27 July, the Eastern Railway Zone’s Deputy Chief Engineer had highlighted the need for inspection of sections of the bridge, flagging several concerns regarding its structural efficacy. A copy of the letter was marked to the railway Senior Deputy Engineer, Sealdah.
KMDA is the statutory planning and development authority for Kolkata metropolitan area and state Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim is the chairman of its board.
“The condition of RCC beams of the bridge which supports utility services, are not in good condition and it requires suitable replacement in a programmed manner at the earliest,” the letter to the Superintending Engineer, South Circle, KMDA said.
A copy of the letter is with PTI.
Sources in the railway ministry said soon after the collapse of the Gokhale Bridge in Mumbai in July, an inspection of a section of the Majerhat Bridge above the Sealdah-Budge Budge line was conducted which revealed these deficiencies.
The letter urged the KMDA to make preparations at their end so that railway could initiate maintenance work. It also raised concerns over a nearby span of the bridge towards Mominpur, which they found to be “visibly deflected”.
“This needs to be a complete inspection from your side and necessary action thereof,” wrote the Eastern Railway Zone’s Deputy Chief Engineer.
Further, the bridge engineer listed out the anomalies detected in the road over bridge – weak RCC and steel beams which needed replacement, locations with exposed reinforcements, and some cracks in piers over isolated locations.
After the collapse of the Vivekanada flyover in the city in March 2016, the state government had mandated Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RiTES) to survey the conditions of different bridges in Kolkata.
The under-construction flyover came crashing down in crowded Burrabazar area, the wholesale business hub of the city, on 31 March 2016 claiming 26 lives. After the tragedy, the KMDA and the state PWD had entrusted a team of consulting engineers with the task of auditing flyovers and rail overbridges in the city.