It has been one year since the flyover collapse in Kolkata.

On 31st March 2016, at 12:32 pm, the 60th section of the Vivekananda flyover under construction in the Girish Park neighbourhood collapsed killing 27 and injuring more than 80 innocent lives.

A lot was said one year back.

Candle marches. Facebook DP changes. Empathetic poetry. Promises of thorough investigation. The City of Joy saw it all.

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However, almost nothing has been done since an entire year of one of the most ghastly events in the city.

IVRCL was the company in charge of the construction. Their operations director had termed the incident to be an “act of God”! Their legal adviser mentioned of the possibility of a blast two days after the incident.

Till date, the company website only has a message grieving the incident. When contact was attempted through the e-mail id, all messages remained unanswered.

What has (or hasn’t) been done so far?

One year and few days after the incident, NO criminal procedure has been initiated. Sixteen persons were arrested on charges of culpable homicide amounting to murder, all of who are now out on bail. Here’s why.

Ten of the sixteen are management level officials of IVRCL and  two are senior KMDA (Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority) officials. Two persons from Anindita Enterprises, one from Equtep Engineers, and another from Indian Registrar of Shipping have also been brought under the charges.

The court proceedings have not been initiated because Kolkata Police has still been unable to file one complete chargesheet even after more than a year of the incident.

Why are the case proceedings shrouded in mystery?

A journalist from The Wire says, “After filing three Right to Information (RTI) appeals, I have received permission to access the document. Although the RTI response did not mention partial access, I was handed only about 50 pages of the case files.”

According to the police, they have filed 3500 pages in charges and are currently filing some more. Suspiciously, the Kolkata Police rejected this journalist’s RTI appeal filed to them.

The “neighbour” equation

IVRCL was responsible for the project along with a Chinese company named China Railway 18th Bereau Group Co. Ltd. (CR18G) with 30-70 splitting. However, in the chargesheet, police wrote, “Representatives of CR18G have never visited the project site. IVRCL has failed to substantiate the absence of CR18G since inception of the project.”

It is evident that the CR18G was “apparently” roped in only to increase IVRCL’s chances of success in the bid for acquiring the project.

The basic errors which are as clear as daylight

– The accident was caused when two arms of the T shaped pillar buckled. In the chargesheet, it is said that the steel used to fabricate the pier in question was well below the required strength. When the IRS, appointed for project quality checks, tested the steel it was found to have impact values of only 9.33 J and 12.66 J on two consecutive tests as opposed to the 25 J requisite.

– To add to the list of glaring discrepancies, the engineers’ drawings of the flyover design, courtesy Equtep, had not been verified by Jadavpur University, the independent authority. Basically, the flyover was being constructed upon (probably) faulty drawings.

– There is also evidence that the nuts and bolts were of poor quality, and poorly graded sand and cement was used for concreting. Recently, analyses by experts from IIT Kharagpur have concluded that it is best to raze the flyover, there being too little to salvage.

Oh! The irony

Trinamool Congress leader, Smita Bakshi had won her assembly seat from the same constituency where the flyover has fallen. Her nephew Rajat Bakshi has surprisingly not been charged even though his company provided labourers for the flyover construction.

How does a project with so many loopholes get approval? More importantly, how can there be an authorized flyover construction in densely populated Burrabazar where the structure passes right through residential verandahs and parapets?

Where is the justice for those 27 innocent souls when the perpetrators roam freely on bail?

Being the employer, the KMDA and thus the Government of West Bengal (both the CPIM and TMC) are liable for this.

Dear Kolkatans, the next time you pass through Ganesh Talkies and gaze up through the gaping hole at the sky, stop for a moment. Stop and think.

Think of how, even  after more than a year, your Facebook DP changes and beautiful poems have all but gone to waste.

Image credits: Google

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