The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bengal flyover in PM’s golden project collapses

Ajhapur (Burdwan), Feb. 22: A flyover being built on the Durgapur Expressway as part of the Prime Minister’s Golden Quadrilateral project to develop highways across the country collapsed today.

The workers jumped off the scaffolding put up on one side of the construction when they saw the structure crumbling at Ajhapur in Moshagram, 90 km from Calcutta, and 16 were injured.

Most of them were admitted to hospital with broken limbs and injuries to their heads and chests. Two of them are said to be in a serious condition.

Delhi-based M. Sahay and Company is in charge of the construction as a sub-contractor for Malaysian firm Gamuda WCT, which is implementing the project to develop the expressway, a part of National Highway 2.

Burdwan superintendent of police K.C. Meena said Jamalpur police station has registered a case against Gamuda. “We will collect samples of building materials for examination and carry out a thorough probe into the collapse,” he added.

The 80-metre-long and 12.5-metre-wide flyover under construction rested on five 9-metre-high pillars on each side. A 40-metre stretch of the flyover caved in around 1.10 pm, shortly after concrete mix was poured on the frame.

The Durgapur Expressway is a 65-km bypass of G.T. Road and Delhi Road between Dankuni in Hooghly and Palsit in Burdwan.

Progress on the stretch has been slow and controversial with residents of villages on both sides demanding more underpasses across the highway, which engineers said would reduce speed planned at 100 km per hour on the highway.

Gamuda personnel manager Ashish Basu, who rushed to the spot, said a company investigation would be carried out into the collapse. “Everything was fine. We just cannot understand how the structure came down. Immediately we can’t say how it happened,” he said.

Tarak Modak, who suffered a fracture in his arm, said he was climbing the scaffolding with a load of concrete mix when he heard a rumbling sound. “Everything shook around me. I was scared and leapt from the 25-foot high scaffolding,” said Modak.

As soon as the flyover collapsed, all the officials of the contractor, the sub-contractor and the labour contractor fled the scene, people in the neighbourhood said. Residents and labourers rushed the injured to the hospital and tried to remove the debris with the pay-loaders at the site.

“We were working in the field when we heard a loud crash. We saw the labourers diving to the ground from the scaffolding,” said a villager.

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