It was a horrific sight at Kolkata. An under construction flyover collapsed yesterday leaving at least 23 dead and several more injured. As expected there was a blame game and the company which was awarded the contract, IVRCL issued a statement in which it said that the accident was an act of God.
What ever the cause may be, this accident has taken away the lives of many innocent by standers who were not aware of what was in store. The point here is that the company which was awarded the contract to build the flyover in 2009 with a deadline of 18 months. However extensions were granted by the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Corporation (KMDA) and even in the year 2016, the construction was incomplete.
Cash strapped and marred by delays:
It may be recalled that in the year 2014, the IVRCL had sought from the KDMA a bail out package. It had told the government that is was finding it difficult to complete the project and was already behind schedule. The company went on to seek an additional allocation of funds as it was facing a major budget constraint.
The request by the company could not be granted as there was no clause in the contract which provided for funds. However the KDMA did award the company four extensions. Back in 2014 itself there were allegations that the KDMA did little to monitor the progress of the work. Being the executing agency of the contract it ought to have spent more time monitoring the work with a view of ensuring that there were no further delays.
Falling short of budget:
While an inquiry would go into the cause of the collapse, it must also be noted that two years ago, the company had told the KDMA that it was finding it hard to complete the work as it was running short of a budget. It had written in the letter that there was no money to purchase material and hence the work was being delayed.
When the original contract was signed on February 24 2009, the clause was that it completed the construction within 18 months. Contracts do provide for extension, but then that needs to be limited. In this case, the extensions went on for nearly 7 years.
The flyover has been marred by problems since day one. Initially some residents went to court seeking a stay as the flyover was too close to where they reside. Further there was a delay due to a design change that had to be effected. The IVRCL had argued that there had been delays since they were given only 18 per cent of the land in the first year. Moreover there had been budgetary constraints and hence they had petitioned the government for allocation of funds.