Please Spare the God!

The Flyover Collapse

Bikram Vohra comments on Kolkata bridge collapse . Leave god out of it Mr Panduranga, you hold the hot little buck for the collapse

God is not the guilty party. God had nothing to do with the collapse of a flyover in Kolkata. The crust of the contractor to pass the buck onto divinity is breathtaking. It is like Mr K.Panduranga Rao of the IVRCL group (contractors) got an sms or a personal mobile call from upstairs saying, oops my fault, mea culpa, you guys did nothing wrong, I was bored so I smacked it down. My bad.

The arrogance reflected in the sentence, “It is nothing but a God’s act’ (sic) is without precedent. Leave the lord out of it, Sir and take the responsibility for an enterprise that is already four years overdue from completion. Don’t jump the gun.

Common sense suggests that putting Slab 60 as a fresh block onto a ‘halted’ construction would create asymmetry between the old and dried cement and the fresh one. How much of a check was conducted on examining the integrity of the built up portion and what was the weight on top of it at the time of the collapse. Also, was any report made of the tensile strength of the old girders and the ‘buckle’ effect of the steel. Something like this would only collapse if it centre of gravity was shifted or if the materials used were inferior and suffering from metal fatigue or spurious concrete. You don’t have to be a flipping scientist to know that.

By the same token was the foundation examined for loose soil, weak bases and water or contamination of any sort. Just having people creating a ‘village’ under it would have contributed to the erosion of the substructure and the pinning. Some parts are years old.

It is a sobering thought that all these major works are built by the lowest bidder for every component. Add the element of corruption, the skimming, the short cuts, the pay offs, the fake materials and the delays and you have a recipe for disaster.

Mr Pandurang, as the voice of the contractors, please come down to earth. You seem more concerned about the insurance coverage as if that is the magic panacea and will satisfy all the next of kin who have lost members of their family. It is such a bureaucratic approach and so utterly tactless and insensitive. Insurance will pay, no, kya hai, sab ko paisa milega.

You can almost hear him think it.

At least let the West Bengal government step up now and do the right thing by the investigation in the faint hope that it never happens again. Doubtful but we can hope. Having already projected a fair amount of incompetence in the ongoing rescue ops by indicating there is no blueprint for a disaster of this nature the least it can do is tell the truth about why the slabs fell…or will truth also be buried beneath the debris.

Think of it. There are still people under those steel girders and guess who has to be called in…the army.

Whether it is building bridges, dredging rivers or lifting steel, it is always the boys in olive green who step up.

That’s who God sends, Mr Pandurang.