Varanasi: Who pressured UP officials to rush flyover construction?

Rescue operations underway at the site where an under-construction flyover collapsed in Varanasi on May 15, 2018. 18 persons were killed and over 50 persons are feared trapped under the debris. Many cars have been buried under the heap of rubble. Flyover was being constructed by the Uttar Pradesh State Bridge Corporation

Collapse of under-construction flyover in Varanasi was a result of negligence and undue haste to complete it by October, so that PM Narendra Modi could inaugurate it before Diwali, allege officials

A pillar span of the flyover that collapsed and fell on cars, buses and commuters in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency of Varanasi, killing 18 people on Tuesday evening, was a result of negligence and undue haste shown by the administration to complete the bridge by October this year so that the PM could inaugurate it before Diwali, allege officials.

“There was immense pressure on us to complete the bridge by October. The mini PMO office in Varanasi had directed us to complete the project by Durga Puja. We were told that the Prime Minister wanted to inaugurate the bridge by October end or November,” alleged a senior official of Uttar Pradesh Bridge Corporation.

A social worker Vallabhacharya Pandey said that it (collapse of pillar span) was the result of hurry shown by the government to complete the projects before the next parliamentary election in 2019. The Government saw politics in this bridge and wanted to encash on this which led to loss of so many lives, he alleged.

“There was immense pressure on us to complete the bridge by October. The mini PMO office in Varanasi had directed us to complete the project by Durga Puja. We were told that the Prime Minister wanted to inaugurate the bridge by October end or November,” alleged a senior official of Uttar Pradesh State Bridge Corporation

The flyover from Chowkaghat area was constructed during the regime of Mayawati. During the regime of Akhilesh Yadav, yet another flyover was sanctioned parallel to the old one which would extend to Lahartara. Since the BJP government came to power, pressure was allegedly being mounted on the UP State Bridge Corporation for an earlier completion date.

Just a day before the accident, Divisional Commissioner, Varanasi Deepak Agrawal had reportedly expressed concern over the slow pace of work and instructed the engineers that the flyover should be completed by October this year. Insiders say that fear of an accident was all the time lurking on the minds of the local administration therefore, on February 19, the police had filed an FIR against the Project Manager and the construction company, alleging negligence in construction of overbridge.

The police even said that negligence can lead to accident at any moment. The fear of the police proved right. The accident, in which 18 people lost their lives, occurred in the congested Cantonment area of the city opposite the railway station on Tuesday, when traffic was at its peak.

“There was a sudden rumble and within seconds we saw around a dozen four-wheelers crushed under the pillar span. It took at least a minute for the people around to realise what exactly had happened,” said Ramesh Kumar Singh, a resident of Varanasi. Singh had gone to the railway station to see off his relatives and had stopped for a cup of tea.

“Thanks to my stars I am alive today. I would have been dead now had I not stayed back for a cup of tea,” he added.

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