West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday tried to dodge Opposition criticism over the collapse of a portion of the Majherhat bridge, saying the structure was not built during her regime. Warning that stern action would be taken against those responsible for the incident, in which three people died and over 20 were injured, Banerjee accused the BJP of planting misleading stories.
The Majherhat tragedy is the third instance of a bridge collapse in Kolkata in the past six years. “None of these bridges were made during our tenure. No use in only blaming us. I have heard Kolkata port constructed the bridge. They gave it to the Railways and they subsequently handed it over to PWD,” Banerjee told India Today.
The Majerhat bridge, which connects the city to South 24 Paraganas and southern suburban areas, had collapsed on September 4. The city police have already registered a case against unknown persons. The CM has ordered a probe by a committee led by chief secretary Moloy De.
The TMC supremo, whose party came to power in 2011, said the primary report submitted by PWD chief engineer had found that the 54-year-old bridge got affected due to the adjacent metro construction work. “Primary report has been given by PWD chief engineer which suggests the bridge got affected due to metro construction work. Metro Railway has been asked to stop work near Majerhat bridge till panel probing its collapse gives a report,” she said.
Interestingly, a West Bengal Public Works Department audit of bridges and flyovers ordered by the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) two months failed to identify weaknesses or faults in the 54-year-old bridge. Sources in the state secretariat said the PWD had even given the bridge a fitness certificate after conducting a routine check.
Lashing out at the BJP for misleading the media and planting stories, Banerjee said collapsing of bridges was a pan India problem. “Don’t conduct a media trial. Some days back, a bridge collapsed in Varanasi too. It’s a pan India problem and there are several aspects like design flaws. Media is being misled by the BJP,” the TMC chief said.
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