Amidst election campaigning going across the length and breadth of West Bengal, political life came to standstill on Thursday as soon as the news of an under-construction flyover collapse broke out. State Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee stopped her campaign in mid and reached the tragedy site to take stock of the situation. Today, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to address three election rallies in the state, but before that, he visited the flyover site in the morning. He also visited the injured people at Kolkata Medical College and Hospital.
While local political leaders started blame game, Rahul Gandhi wished to distance himself from making any political statements. “There has been a tragedy here. I wanted to come here and give my support to the people who are injured. One must give support what we can. I came here to visit the injured people. I don’t want to make any political statement,” he said. Gandhi also urged people to provide necessary support to the victims.
Rahul Gandhi was accompanied by state Congress President Adhir Chowdhury and party leader Deepa Dasmunsi. Gandhi also took stock of the rescue work from NDRF officials at site. Rahul Gandhi also asked Mamata Banerjee about the delay in the construction work and seeked clarification over why was work related to flyover stalled for 5 years. The construction of 2.2 km long flyover was being done by Hyderabad based company IVRCL which is only 60 percent complete after 7 years since its commencement.
The police arrested three employees of IVRCL on Friday evening and slapped murder charges on them. Police also sealed company’s local office. IVRCL’s Assistant General Manager Mallikaarjun, Assistant Manager Debjyoti Manjumdar and Structure Manager Pradip Kumar Saha were arrested under IPC Sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) and others. The arrested employees will be produced before a court. Acting hard on the government authority, state government suspended a chief engineer and an executive engineer of the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority till the completion of probe. The government had earlier ordered a high-level probe into the accident.
The state government also ordered immediate inspection of the remaining portion of the flyover for its stability and safety. Forensic experts visited the site and collected samples of construction materials. The inspection report would be submitted to the government.
Earlier Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi thrashed the state government of playing blame games and accused it of being engaged in a ‘competition of corruption’ with previous Left Front government. “It is not the time to accuse the previous government. If the previous Left Front government had indulged in corruption, then why didn’t the TMC government stop it after coming to power? It seems a competition on corruption was on between the two. And the flyover collapse is a result of it,” he said. Naqvi also advocated for initiating CBI inquiry into the incident.
The West Bengal government had announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the families of those who got killed and Rs 2 lakh to the injured. Till now, the death toll has reached to 27, while hundreds are injured.