West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has called a meeting with the state Public Works Department (PWD) and the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) officials on Thursday to assess the condition of all the bridges in the state following the Majerhat Bridge collapse incident. She has also sought a detailed report from the two departments.
Banerjee, who visited the accident site on Wednesday evening, announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for those who lost their lives in the incident.
She said that a second body was recovered by rescue officials earlier today bringing the death toll to two.
“Money and job cannot compensate for lives. Still compensation of Rs 5 lakh has been announced for the deceased. One more body was recovered today. We are probing this incident from all the angles, no angle is less or more important for us,” she told media persons after taking stock of the ongoing rescue operations at the site.
“We are holding emergency meeting tomorrow. There are many more such bridges in Bengal so govt is trying to get those records and take necessary steps,” she was quoted as saying by ANI.
The meeting will be held at the state secretariat Nabanna on Thursday in the presence of the senior officers of Kolkata and Bengal police.
A portion of a bridge in south Kolkata’s Majerhat collapsed at around 4.30 pm on Tuesday. A bus, several two-wheelers and some four-wheelers were damaged as the arterial bridge came crashing down following a spell of rains.
Banerjee, who was in Darjeeling yesterday, had in a press briefing said that there was a hut underneath the bridge which housed a few labourers working on a railway project.
“If the labourers were in the hut at the time of the incident, some lives may have been lost,” the Trinamool Congress chief told reporters.
She had earlier said that there was no casualty in the incident.
Majherhat Bridge is located next to the Kolkata Port Trust Hospital and connects Alipore with the rest of the south Kolkata neighbourhood. Its proximity to Garden Reach and Khidirpur makes Majerhat Bridge one of the busiest in the city.
It runs over the suburban railway network, which is the lifeline of the city. The collapse of the bridge is likely to affect railway operations though the portion that has collapsed does not run over the railway lines but a canal adjacent to them.
This is the second major bridge collapse in Kolkata. On 31 March 2016, the under-construction Vivekananda flyover in the Girish Park neighbourhood collapsed killing 27 people and leaving over 80 were injured.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the incident.
“The collapse of a part of a bridge in Kolkata is deeply unfortunate. My thoughts are with the families of the victims. I pray that those who are injured recover at the earliest,” he wrote on Twitter.
West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, who reached the site to take stock of the rescue operations, raised questions on the maintenance of the bridge.
“Bridge deserved better maintenance. There was a report on a pit here for quite some time; I don’t know whether PWD noted it. PWD and Railway administration had the responsibility to maintain it. The matter requires investigation,” said the Governor.