Siliguri highway flyover falls, blame on rush

A portion of an under-construction flyover in the East West Corridor on NH-31D collapsed at Kantibhita in Phansidewa, located around 25 km from here, on Saturday.

By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Siliguri
  • Published 12.08.18
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The part of the under-construction flyover on NH31D that collapsed near Siliguri's Phansidewa on Saturday. Picture by Passang Yolmo

Siliguri: A portion of an under-construction flyover in the East West Corridor on NH-31D collapsed at Kantibhita in Phansidewa, located around 25 km from here, on Saturday.

Though no injury or casualty has been reported so far, the incident has prompted the district magistrate of Darjeeling to issue an order to the construction company to stop work at the site until a report is submitted to the administration about the collapse.

The East West Corridor is four-lane expressway project, taken up by NHAI around 15 years back. It connects Porbandar in Gujarat with Silchar of Assam. The expressway enters north Bengal at Purnia More in North Dinajpur and moves through the districts of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Cooch Behar before entering Assam.

"This is an NHAI project and how a portion of the under-construction flyover collapsed can be ascertained only after a thorough investigation by engineers or technical experts. I have told the NHAI to submit a report of the incident. They have been also told to stop construction work till the report is placed," said Joyoshi Dasgupta, the district magistrate of Darjeeling, after inspecting the damaged site later on Saturday.

People living close to the site were shocked. "A little past midnight, there was a thud with mild tremors, which made us run out of our homes. Initially, we thought it to be an earthquake but later found that a stretch of the flyover has collapsed," said Arun Roy, a resident of Kantibhita.

The locals then carried out a search to find out whether anyone has come under the four concrete planks -- around 25 metres long - which came crushing on the ground.

"We are fortunate that there has been no injury or casualty. But the incident has left us tensed. There should be a complete inquiry to find out as what led to the collapse and whether proper quality is maintained while construction. Every day, we need to cross the construction area on different errand," added Roy.

After the incident, representatives of the construction company rushed to the spot.

"It is difficult to comment as why the beams collapsed. We will thoroughly check the area and damaged portions. Also, the materials used for construction and whether there were any anomalies in the work, would also be checked," said an official of the construction company.

An engineer working with the state government said it is also necessary to know whether enough time is being spent to fit the concrete planks.

"Adequate time should be provided before removing the support structures from beneath the plans to ensure that the concrete planks get fitted with the pillars," he said.

This is because on June this year, at a high level meeting held in Goa, the Union surface transport ministry had passed instructions to different government agencies of the state and Centre which are engage in highway projects, to expedite the ongoing projects and finish those by March next year.