Bridge collapse kicks off political slugfest in WB

NDRF, DGM and fire personnel during the rescue operations after the collapse of Majerhat bridge, in Kolkata, Wednesday, Sept 5, 2018. (PTI Photo)

A day after the collapse of a portion of Majerhat bridge in the West Bengal capital, a political slugfest erupted with the opposition parties on Wednesday accusing the TMC government of "neglecting" repair and maintenance of bridges and only painting various installations blue and white.

The Trinamool Congress, however, dubbed the allegations baseless and said the state government had taken enough steps for repair of old and new bridges, which were in a dismal condition during the Left Front rule.

A section of a 50-year-old Majerhat bridge on the arterial Diamond Harbour Road in south Kolkata collapsed Tuesday evening, snuffing out one life, trapping several people and crushing many vehicles.

Mukul Roy, a former close aide of Chief Minister Mamata Banejee and now a BJP leader said, "Painting the city blue and white, the favourite colours of Banerjee, tops the agenda of the PWD department. The repair and maintenance of bridges took a back seat."

"The state government and PWD department are solely responsible for the bridge collapse. The PWD minister Arup Biswas should take the responsibility," he said.

BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said, "Didi (Mamata Banerjee) is dreaming of becoming prime minister and her younger brothers (TMC leaders and ministers) are looting the state in the name of syndicate business. She should keep aside her prime ministerial ambitions and pay attention to the state."

Refuting the opposition charges, state Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim said the state government has taken enough steps to repair old bridges which were in a dilapidated state during the Left Front rule.

"Undertaking beautification work in the city is nothing wrong and it doesn't mean repair of bridges has been neglected. A portion of the bridge has collapsed and it is an unfortunate incident," he said.

The minister said it would be wrong to make sweeping comments on this issue to score political brownie points. "The engineers are inspecting on what actually led to the incident."

State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury demanded the West Bengal government make public a complete report on the number of bridges that are in poor condition and the steps taken by the government to repair them.

"TMC government is yet to learn its lessons from the flyover collapse in 2016. The chief minister has to answer on what steps the state government has taken to repair old bridges. The people of Bengal can't suffer just because ministers and leaders of TMC are benefiting from syndicate business," Chowdhury said.

CPI(M) central committee member Sujan Chakraborty also echoed the views of the Congress leader and said the TMC has been in power since 2011 and now it should stop blaming the previous Left Front for any untoward incident happening in the state.

"Blaming the previous Left Front government for each and everything will not solve the problem. During the Left rule we never witnessed bridges and flyovers collapsing every now and then," he said.

According to a senior official of the state PWD department, the government was about to undertake repair work on the decrepit Majerhat bridge and a tender was floated in this regard but it got delayed due to bureaucratic wrangles.

This was the third bridge collapse in the city since 2013.

An under-construction flyover collapsed in crowded Burrabazar area, the wholesale business hub of the city, on March 31, 2016, claiming 26 lives, while on March 4, 2013, a road bridge had collapsed in Ultadanga area in the eastern part of the city, but there was no casualty. 

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Bridge collapse kicks off political slugfest in WB

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