Cuttack, May 8: A public interest litigation (PIL) was filed today in Orissa High Court, seeking direction for probe by an independent agency into the Odisha Judicial Academy building portico collapse incident.
While lawyers abstained from court work, a member of the High Court Bar Association filed the PIL. The 1,600sqft under-construction portico collapsed on May 5 leaving three injured.
Construction of the building for the judicial academy started last year at Markatnagar, the satellite township being developed by the Cuttack Development Authority for Rs 17 crore. The project, involving construction of a six-storey building, is expected to be over by March 2013.
Work on the portico was undertaken after completion of construction of the building’s second floor. The Odisha government’s works department has engaged a private construction firm to executing the work.
Srikant Mahanta, a member of the high court bar said the portico collapsed during construction “due to negligence and callous attitude” of the construction firm.
“Though the portico was at a height of 30ft, single stage centering process was adopted instead of the required double stage process. Besides, no cross system was adapted to co-ordinate the centering. The structure collapsed because of it,” the PIL contended, seeking compensation for the injured.
The petitioner further alleged that the construction was awarded to the firm even as it was “blacklisted for substandard execution of work and non-adherence of quality and specifications” by the state government a year ago.
According to the petition, the Odisha government had sustained huge loss because of such conduct by the firm, when it was engaged for the Odisha health system development project.
“As a result, the contractor was ineligible to participate in bidding for any work to be undertaken by the Odisha government and also banned from transacting business with it either directly or indirectly in the name of the firm or his partner or indirectly under a different name or title,” the PIL contended. It also cited an order passed by the engineer-in-chief (civil), Odisha, on May 7, 2010.
Official sources said the secretary of the works department had ordered a high-level probe into the portico collapse incident. A chief engineer, who had started the probe on May 6, was expected to submit his report by May 10.