The tragic Varanasi flyover collapse in the high-profile Lok Sabha constituency represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has posed a big question mark on the standard of work carried out by the UP Bridge Corporation in the recent past. The state-run corporation, which had once earned kudos bagging projects not only in other states but also in Iraq, Yemen and Nepal, has been at the receiving end recently, according to a senior official in the Public Works Department (PWD). During peak traffic hours on Tuesday evening, two pillars of an under-construction flyover in Varanasi's Cantt area had collapsed, bringing down a huge slab, which crushed a mini-bus, cars and two-wheelers. As many as 15 people were reported killed and 11 others injured. Several people got crushed or trapped under the debris in the incident and, according to Principal Secretary (Home) Arvind Kumar, around 7 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams of over 325 personnel had to be deployed for relief operations at the site of the Varanasi under-construction flyover collapse. Former UP CM Akhilesh Yadav also asked his party members to reach the accident site and help the people there. Work on the flyover, which would connect Chaukaghat and Lahartara, began on October 1, 2015, when Akhilesh Yadav was the chief minister. Work on the flyover between Chauka Ghat bus stand and Lahartara had been initiated during the Samajwadi Party rule. Earlier this morning, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said preliminary action had been taken against erring authorities responsible for the Varanasi flyover collapse. After the incident, the chief minister announced compensation of Rs 500,000 for the kin of those killed in the incident, and Rs 200,000 for those who had been injured. He also met victims at the Kabir Chaura Hospital on late Tuesday night. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh also took stock of the situation in Varanasi on Tuesday evening. Union Health and Family Welfare minister J P Nadda directed Health Secretary Preeti Sudan to stay in touch with the health officials of Uttar Pradesh. Meanwhile, KR Sudan, the project manager of the flyover, said the reason behind the mishap could only be ascertained after the completion of the investigation. Earlier, the district administration had rushed to the spot for rescue operations and more than a dozen cranes had been pressed into service. Many of those trapped were reported to be labourers working on the flyover, according to an NDTV report. The flyover, being constructed by Uttar Pradesh State Bridge Corporation, was scheduled to be inaugurated last December. Addressing reporters last evening, UP Minister Sidharth Nath Singh had said that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had directed the administration to speed up rescue operation. Two ministers were also sent to the city to take stock of the situation. The chief minister directed the district administration and PWD officials to take all necessary steps for relief and rescue operations. DGP OP Singh was quoted by media reports as saying: "We are in the process of evacuating the 50 people trapped under the debris. A majority of the people trapped are suspected to be the construction workers." Singh also recalled the Kolkata flyover collapse and went on to say that rescue operations were on in full swing. Here are the top 10 developments in the Varanasi flyover collapse incident that killed as many as 15 people and critically injured 11 others: 1. Varanasi flyover collapsed due to thunderstorm, says UP Bridge Corp MD: The under-construction flyover at Varanasi's Cantonment area collapsed due to the recent thunderstorms that struck the region a few days ago, weakening its structure, an official said on Wednesday.
R Mittal, the managing director (MD) of Bridge Corporation told ANI: "We think the lock of the bearing underneath the beam broke due to the recent thunderstorms that struck in the region, which led to the accident. The traffic should have been diverted away from the construction site. We should all learn from this incident."
Stressing on the need to ensure such incidents do not occur again, he added, "At all other project sites, we will ensure the traffic in the area is diverted away from the site. We have made special teams comprising of six to seven people to identify all the sites and if there are any security lapses at those sites." 2. Man held for charging money from families of flyover collapse victims: Uttar Pradesh Health Minister Sidharth Nath Singh today said a man was arrested for allegedly charging money from families at the BHU mortuary for handing over bodies of those killed in the Varanasi flyover collapse.
An official in Varanasi said the employee, who worked as a sweeper at the mortuary, had allegedly demanded Rs 200 bribe from the families of two victims.3. Probe begins into Varanasi flyover collapse: A probe into the collapse of an under-construction flyover in Varanasi that killed 15 people began on Wednesday, officials said.
The Uttar Pradesh government constituted a three-member committee of Agriculture Production Commissioner Raj Pratap Singh, Irrigation Department Chief Engineer Bhupendra Sharma and Jal Nigam Managing Director Rajesh Mittal to probe the collapse and submit a report within 48 hours. The team had been asked to immediately leave for Varanasi and hold investigations. Varanasi District Magistrate Yogeshwar Ram Mishra said their prime focus for now was on rescue and relief.
An official told IANS that most vehicles trapped beneath tonnes of concrete and iron have been removed.
Meanwhile, after close monitoring by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), an FIR has been lodged under sections 304, 308 and 427 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against the UP Bridge Corp and the executing agency constructing the flyover.4. UP Bridge Corporation comes under a cloud: The state-run corporation, which had once earned kudos bagging projects not only in other states of India but also in other countries like Iraq, Yemen and Nepal, has been at the receiving end lately. In 2010, the 1,086.62-metre Chillgahat bridge connecting Fatehpur with Bundelkhand region, built at the cost of Rs 650 crore, developed cracks within 13 days of inauguration, a PWD official recalled. In 2016, a cavity developed on the Lohia bridge in Lucknow, providing an arterial link between posh and VIP areas on either side of the Gomti river. Another flyover near Polytechnic crossing had developed cracks and was closed for traffic for about a year, the official said. The corporation had been facing problems because of overstaffing and unprofessional handling of affairs, as well as unprecedented political and bureaucratic interference, the official added. 5. Preliminary action taken against authorities concerned: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath early Wednesday morning said preliminary action had been taken against the erring authorities responsible for the Varanasi flyover mishap, in which at least 15 people had been killed and 11 critically injured. "Fifteen people have been killed and 11 people are critically injured and we have assured proper treatment for them. Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya has taken preliminary action against responsible authorities," Adityanath said at a press conference in the wee hours of Wednesday. Adityanath also added that he had asked Maurya and the minister concerned to personally monitor rescue and relief works. "A committee has also been constituted which will give a report in 48 hours," he added. Read our earlier detailed copy on developments in the Varanasi flyover collapse incident 6.
PM Modi expresses grief on Twitter:Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who represents Varanasi in the Lok Sabha, expressed grief over the deaths while the Opposition targeted the UP government over the tragedy in the "top-priority constituency of the country". “Extremely saddened by the loss of lives due to the collapse of an under-construction flyover in Varanasi. I pray that the injured recover soon. Spoke to officials and asked them to ensure all possible support to those affected,” Modi said in a tweet on Tuesday
7. Nadda directs Health Secretary to monitor Varanasi tragedy: Union Health and Family Welfare minister J P Nadda directed Health Secretary Preeti Sudan to stay in touch with health officials of Uttar Pradesh. Health Secretary also spoke to Principal Health Secretary of Uttar Pradesh and offered all help to the victims. Meanwhile, Principal Secretary (Home) Arvind Kumar said that three-member committee will investigate the incident. "Seven NDRF teams are on the spot. As per current information, 16 people died and 6 are under treatment. All trapped vehicles have been taken out. Final figures are awaited," he told ANI. 8. Rajnath takes stock of situation, expresses deep anguish over the tragedy: Home Minister Rajnath Singh took stock of the situation in Uttar Pradesh's Varanasi district. Singh also expressed deep anguish over the tragedy. "HM also spoke to the district magistrate of Varanasi who has apprised him of the incident. The @NDRFHQ teams have been rushed to the spot for rescue operations," the home minister's office tweeted. Singh also conveyed his condolences to the families of the deceased and prayed for the speedy recovery of the injured. 9. CM Adityanath announces ex-gratia, forms committee to probe: UP Chief Minister Adityanath on Tuesday announced an ex-gratia of Rs 500,000 to the family of people, killed in flyover collapse incident in Varanasi's cantonment area. The Chief Minister also announced a compensation of Rs 200,000 to the injured people. He also said that a committee has been formed to look into the incident. Speaking to ANI, Adityanath said: "I express grief over the incident, my condolence with the affected families. I have sent Deputy Chief Minister and minister Neelkanth Tiwari to the spot. We have formed committee to look into the incident. The report will come in 48 hours." Earlier, in a Twitter post, he expressed his grief and prayed for peace to those departed in the flyover collapse incident. He said:
Extremely saddened by the loss of lives due to the collapse of an under-construction flyover in Varanasi. I pray that the injured recover soon. Spoke to officials and asked them to ensure all possible support to those affected.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 15, 2018
वाराणसी में कैण्ट स्टेशन के सामने निर्माणाधीन पुल के एक हिस्से के गिरने की दुर्घटना में लोगों की मृत्यु पर गहरा दुःख हुआ। ईश्वर से दिवंगत आत्मा की शांति एवं परिजनों को संबल देने की प्रार्थना करता हूँ।— Yogi Adityanath (@myogiadityanath) May 15, 2018
10. Chief Project Manager suspended: After being held responsible for the Varanasi bridge collapse incident, Chief Project Manager HC Tiwari, Project Manager KR Sudan, Assistant Engineer Rajesh Singh & engineer Lal Chand have been suspended with immediate effect, said UP Deputy Chief Minister KP Maurya, ANI reported
जिला प्रशासन, पुलिस, स्वास्थ्य विभाग एवं अन्य सम्बन्धित विभागों के अधिकारियों को निर्देश दिये हैं कि वे तत्काल प्रभावितों को हर सम्भव सहायता प्रदान करें।— Yogi Adityanath (@myogiadityanath) May 15, 2018
Varanasi flyover collapse like the Kolkata footover bridge collapse of 2016: DGP OP Singh was quoted by media reports as saying: "We are in the process of evacuating the 50 people trapped under the debris. A majority of the people trapped are suspected to be the construction workers." Singh also recalled the Kolkata flyover collapse and went on to say that rescue operations were on in full swing.
This is a very unfortunate incident & I'm deeply saddened by it. I'm going to meet the injured in the hospital. Culprits will not be spared. Will setup a committee to look into the matter: Keshav Prasad Maurya, Deputy CM on Varanasi under-construction flyover collapse incident pic.twitter.com/rHwDDDeHzx— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) May 15, 2018