Siliguri rivals in fall feud

The chief of the Left-run Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad (SMP) on Saturday shifted the onus of Friday's bridge collapse to the local Trinamul-controlled panchayat samiti and block authorities, a day after being blamed for the incident.

By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Siliguri
  • Published 9.09.18
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The bridge that collapsed in Siliguri’s Phansidewa on Friday

Siliguri: The chief of the Left-run Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad (SMP) on Saturday shifted the onus of Friday's bridge collapse to the local Trinamul-controlled panchayat samiti and block authorities, a day after being blamed for the incident.

Tapas Sarkar claimed the SMP had "no responsibility". "The bridge was built by the panchayat samiti under the Border Area Development Programme (BADP). In 2016, the block administration had sent an estimate to us, mentioning that Rs 7 lakh was required for maintenance. We consulted our engineers and revised the estimate to Rs 16 lakh. It was then sent back to the block but no steps were taken by the administration or the samiti," Sarkar said on Saturday.

On Friday, Trinamul members and state ministers Gautam Deb and Rabindranath Ghosh had accused the SMP of not taking any initiative to repair the bridge in Phansidewa, pointing that the estimate was sent in 2016.

Asked why the SMP did not take up repairs, Sarkar said the funds for maintenance of the bridge were sent to the block. "The block administration is supposed to take up the work. It has nothing to do with the SMP."

Sarkar claimed seven other bridges in the rural areas of Siliguri were in a precarious "shape". "We have identified those bridges and drawn up estimates. Funds have been sought from the West Bengal State Rural Development Agency to take up maintenance and repairs."

Kajol Ghosh, leader of the Opposition at the SMP, rejected Sarkar's contention. "He is trying to evade responsibility. The funds for maintenance might directly flow into the block from the administration but the initiative has to be taken by the SMP. The SMP should have informed the administration," said Ghosh.

Pranay Majumdar, the BDO of Phansidewa, said funds had been sought from the SMP.