The toll in flyover collapse rose to 26 with two more bodies recovered on Saturday, even as political slugfest over the city’s worst flyover tragedy heightened with the opposition sharpening its attack on the ruling Trinamool Congress, two days ahead of the first round of assembly elections.
Rescuers on the day pulled out two decomposed bodies two days after the under-construction Vivekananda Road Flyover in north Kolkata’s market area Posta collapsed, crushing people and flattening vehicles.
At least 90 people were injured in the accident of which several are still admitted in various hospitals.
Tightening the screws against the Hyderabad-based IVRCL Infrastructure, which was executing the project, police arrested one more of its officials Tanmay Sil, taking the total of number of arrests to four.
Bringing charges of murder and criminal conspiracy among other offences, police, which have constituted a special investigation team (SIT), had on Friday night arrested the company’s senior assistant general manager M. Mallikarjun, structural manager Pradip Kumar and assistant manager (administration) D. Majumdar.
The trio on the day was remanded to police custody by a city court.
Besides sealing off the companys’ city offices, a Kolkata police team also visited its headquarters in Hyderabad.
The chief engineer and an executive engineer of the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA)- the state government unit in charge of the JNNURM project – have been placed under suspension.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi visited the collapse site and also interacted with the injured at a city hospital.
Later addressing his maiden rally for the assembly polls in Niyamatpur of Burdwan district, he hit out at the Trinamool describing the collapsed flyover as a “symbol of the state of affairs in West Bengal”.
“People died. Mamataji said it was not a political issue. She said there should be no politics with it. She was right… But the flyover is a symbol.
“No work was done in the flyover project for five years. It remained as it was,” said Gandhi alleging “Trinamool men” were constructing the flyover.
“The flyover collapses and people die. After all who suffers? It’s not the Trinamool men. The ones I met in the hospital have suffered,” he added.
The Bharatiya Janata Party which has been demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation probe, claimed the IVRCL Infrastructure had links with the Trinamool since 2011 when Banerjee was the railways minister.
“The company’s links with the Trinamool goes back to when Mamata was the railways minister. She then had awarded a contract for building the Srinagar-Udhampur-Baramula tunnel,” BJP national secretary S N Singh said quoting an IRCON document.
“The chief minister is now trying to evade responsibility by saying that the contract of the flyover was awarded to IVRCL by the (erstwhile) Left Front government.
“But the TMC government continued to engage the company for the project, despite knowing the fact that it was not only blacklisted, rather a CBI probe was being done against it for alleged irregularity in a housing project,” said Singh demanding Banerjee to go for a CBI probe.
Referring to reports of alleged nexus between the Trinamool and the sub-contractors involved with the project, the Communist Party of India-Marxist called for a time-bound, high-level independent enquiry.
“It has now become imperative that there should be a time-bound high level independent enquiry into the causes of this tragedy. This is necessary to establish the culpability and, on that basis, to punish the guilty,” it said in a statement.
However hitting out at the opposition for “spreading lies”, Banerjee asserted her government takes responsibility and acts in instances of “real injustice”.
“Our government is the common man’s government will never do anything to burden the common man. Our government is not CPI-M or Congress. We have the capacity to label injustice as injustice but if somebody lies and says ‘this is injustice’, then we do not accept that,”
“If Trinamool Congress sees there has been real injustice, then it takes responsibility and corrects it. But if someone lies and makes something seem wrong then we do not believe in that act,” said Banerjee, at a poll rally in West Midnapore.