The Majerhat Bridge which collapsed in south Kolkata on Tuesday was a terrible incident which claimed the life of two persons while several others were left injured. The latest reports suggest that this incident was not only unfortunate but also very much avoidable. The Majerhat Bridge is a 50 year old bridge located right next to the Majerhat railway station which made it a busy road. The bridge whose maintenance comes under the state public works department (PWD) connected the city to the areas located to the south, Behala and Kidderpore, two prominent areas which are also connected by this bridge. The Majerhat Bridge needed rebuilding and maintenance for a stretch of approximately 35 metres according to the PWD officials of Kolkata. The PWD had submitted a report long back in 2015 citing the immediate need to carry out the same and had even submitted tenders in this regard multiple times. Mamata Banerjee’s state government and its officials had however turned down the proposal every time it reached the Finance government. Not just this but the Indian Railways too had alerted the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) about the bridge as recently as July 27.
In the letter dated July 27th July to the KMDA written by the Eastern Railway Zone’s Deputy Chief Engineer the Railways had warned the KMDA authorities about weak support beams, exposed reinforcements and cracks which had appeared on the piers. The letter went on to mention that there was an urgent need for inspection of the sections of the bridge in order to assess its present structural efficacy. A copy of the letter was also sent to Senior Deputy Engineer, Railway, Sealdah. “The condition of RCC beams of the bridge which supports utility services, are not in good condition and it requires suitable replacement in a programmed manner at the earliest”, the letter to the Superintending Engineer, South Circle, KMDA said in the letter written by the Railway officials.
The 50 year old road bridge runs over the Majerhat Railway Station on the Sealdah-Budge Budge line. The railway authorities had undertaken an inspection of the Majerhat Bridge after the collapse of the Gokhale Bridge in Mumbai in July which revealed many deficiencies in the condition of the bridge and urged the KMDA authorities to begin the preparations for their end so that the railways could begin the much needed maintenance work. The Mamata Banerjee led TMC government in West Bengal had appointed Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RiTES) to audit the conditions of different bridges in Kolkata after the devastating 2016 Vivekananda Bridge collapse.
Mamata Banerjee and TMC are to blame for the collapse of the Majerhat Bridge which not only caused loss of life but also to property and traffic disruptions on the train routes. KMDA, the statutory planning and development authority for Kolkata Metropolitan area, whose chairman is the state Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim who is a TMC MLA from Alipore. The Urban Development Minister from TMC should be asked to resign and Mamata Banerjee should at the very least come out with an apology to the public of Kolkata as the head of the state government and the face of TMC.