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Kin of Kolkata flyover collapse victims demand demolition of bridge

By Ians

Kolkata, March 31: Over a hundred people, including family members of victims of the north Kolkata flyover collapse, participated in a series of walks on the ghastly accident's first anniversary on Friday demanding the demolition of remnants of the "murder bridge".


On March 31, 2016, around 12.30 p.m. the world came crashing down for hundreds of commuters and residents of Ganesh Talkies in north Kolkata when a 100-metre portion of the Vivekananda flyover sheared off and fell, killing 27 persons and injuring over 100 others.

Kusum Dutta, who lost her husband in the tragedy, said she trembled slightly at the sight of the structure.

"I can't erase the memory of that day. Everytime I look up, I can feel a shadow of doom overhanging the road. I don't want a repeat," Dutta said placing a candle on a small marble shrine built in the memory of the victims close to the flyover.

Her views were echoed by Abhishek who lost his parents in the accident.

"I don't want anyone to go through what I experienced. There should be strict legal action. Why is the state government quiet," asked a teary-eyed Abhishek.

The tragedy was caught in a 14-second CCTV video footage. It showed the collapse flattened vehicles and trapped over a 100 persons underneath it. The same visual was shared by many on social media on Friday.

The incident triggered a political slugfest over corruption in the then assembly poll-bound West Bengal.

Over the past one year, police have arrested engineers from Hyderabad-based construction company IVRCL -- responsible for constructing the Vivekananda flyover -- and two officials of the state-run Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority that had been tasked with monitoring the project.

A series of ongoing scientific inspections have been conducted, but a decision on what to do with the remnant bridge is yet to be taken.

A senior official of the construction company had claimed the disaster was "an act of God" which was swiftly dismissed by engineering experts, who pointed to the lack of proper planning, delays, lacunae in design and bad tendering as the major reasons for the tragedy.

In the aftermath, citizens united under the "Flyover Hatao Abhiyaan" have repeatedly protested against letting the structure remain there in a precarious position. They have been demanding demolition of the "murder bridge".

"Our demand is that the remaining bridge should be demolished. I nearly lost my life that day (March 31, 2016) and it is traumatising to look at the rest of it," said Anil Sonkar, who had just crossed the street beneath the bridge, when it fell.

The long-delayed 2.5-km flyover was expected to tackle congestion in the Burra Bazar area -- the location of one of the largest wholesale markets in Asia -- up to Howrah station, the gateway to the city.

The flyover's foundation was laid in 2008 (during the Left Front regime) and work on the Rs 164 crore project began on February 24, 2009.

It was scheduled to be ready in 2012 but land acquisition issues delayed completion. The implementing agency too ran into financial troubles.


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