Kolkata Bridge Collapse: Why Urban Planning Must Go Hand In Hand With Structural Safety
The partial collapse of Kolkata's Majerhat Bridge on September 4 has claimed around five lives so far and left several injured. Despite in-your-face warnings, the city's Public Works Department (PWD) could do nothing to stop the accident.
In March 2016, the Vivekananda Bridge in Kolkata collapsed and claimed 27 lives. After that collapse, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had instructed the PWD to form a committee to inspect every bridge and flyover in the state every month.
Several warnings went unheard, unnoticed
The 30-year-old Majerhat Bridge was reported structurally unsafe in 2015 in a PWD audit. In June this year, the PWD was notified again by the traffic police for urgent repair. Last week, nearby residents reportedly met PWD engineers to inquire about the vibrations in the bridge during Metro piling work.
PWD officials are of the opinion that the digging work carried out for the Joka Metro project might have resulted in the gushing of rainwater through underground tunnels that caused weakening the base of the old structure. However, Rail Vikas Nigam Limited, the company responsible for Metro construction in Kolkata, has denied these claims.
Since the bridge carried mostly heavy vehicles and containers (the area is close to Kolkata port), the periodic maintenance was hardly done except in 2010, when the Eastern Railway Board renovated a part of the bridge that falls in its jurisdiction.
The CM has ordered a probe into the matter to fix responsibility.