West Bengal: Political slugfest heats up after bridge collapse; three critical

Express News Service | Kolkata |

Published: February 18, 2020 5:11:47 am

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A day after two men were killed following the collapse of the under-construction Farakka bridge in Malda district, a political war of words on Monday erupted between Trinamool Congress, Congress and BJP.

The TMC and Congress blamed the Central government and its agencies for the tragedy which occurred after a girder of the bridge came tumbling down in Baishnabnagar area on Sunday night. Two men, an engineer from Andhra Pradesh and a construction worker, were killed and seven others injured. Thee of the seven people were critically injured; of them, two were being treated in Kolkata and another in Malda.

Local TMC leader Krishnendu Narayan Chowdhury alleged irregularities by contractors and and said “cut money” was exchanged. Cut money refers to bribery sought by officials or political leaders in lieu of government benefits.

Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury demanded a probe and suitable compensation for the families of the victims. He met Minister of Road Transport and Highway Nitin Garkari on Sunday.

After the meeting, he said, “There is some lapse in construction work of the bridge. Those who are responsible should be identified and punished according to the law. The family of the deceased should be properly compensated. The minister gave me the assurance that the government will conduct a proper investigation.”

Malda BJP MP Khagen Murmu said those found responsible for the lapse would not be spared. He said, “First, we have to identify those who are responsible. Once identified, they will not be spared.”

Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said the Centre should look into the accident and take action against the contractors.

The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has given contracts to some agencies for construction of the 1.5-km bridge on the Ganga, parallel to the National Highway 34. Work for construction of the bridge, aimed at decongesting the national highway, started in January 2019 and was likely to be completed by the year end.

The deceased have been identified as engineer Srinivas Rao, a resident of Andhra Pradesh, and Sachin Pratap, a construction worker from Delhi. Five of the injured have been admitted to Malda Medical College and Hospital and the rest to a Kolkata hospital.

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