NEW DELHI: Under attack over preparations and cleanliness, the government on Tuesday faced further embarrassment when an under-construction foot overbridge collapsed injuring 27 people outside the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, the main venue for the mega event.
The collapse of the 95-metre long hanging bridge was the second such incident since Monday when a canopy erected at the stadium fell, injuring an Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police and another policeman.
The bridge, which was intended to be a showpiece and connect the parking lot of the stadium with other side of the street in Lodhi Road area in South Delhi, caved in at around 3.10 p.m. when construction work was underway.
Twenty seven labourers were injured, five of them seriously, in the incident that occurred outside the stadium where the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games would be held. The bridge was being built along with another overbridge at the cost of ` 10.5 crore by Chandigarh-based company PNR Infra, Delhi government sources said.
The firm has been blacklisted, Chief Minister Ms Sheila Dikshit said as she ordered a probe by a two-member committee which will file its report within a fortnight. The government also announced a compensation of Rs one lakh for each of those who sustained grievous injuries and Rs 50,000 to the other injured.
Ms Dikshit said the overbridge was constructed for athletes and the Games officials and it was not meant for the common public. She said government was making alternate arrangements. However, a PWD official said the facility was being constructed for entry of spectators to the stadium. The collapse increased embarrassment for the government at a time when it is facing questions from the Commonwealth Games Federation over preparedness, even at the Games Village which has been dubbed has “filthy.”
The PWD Minister, Mr Raj Kumar Chouhan said the mishap occurred due to “unequal distribution of weight” when the labourers were putting mix of concrete when it fell. He contended that “the structure is fine” and “we can make the (collapsed) structure operational before the Games.” A “different structure” can also be made, he said. Interestingly, the Union Urban Development Minister Mr Jaipal Reddy, who heads the Group of Ministers on the Commonwealth Games, sought to blame the rains for the collapse. “There have been heavy rains for the last 20 days. I don’t have much details about the collapse. But I am sure the Games will be absolutely world class,” Mr Reddy said.
However PWD chief engineer, Mr Rakesh Mishra, however, had a differing view on this. “It did not happen because of rain. Something has gone wrong leading to the incident. We are looking into all aspects of it,” Mr Mishra said. The PWD chief engineer admitted that the incident was a “setback” but expressed confidence that the project would be completed before the Games that start on October 3.
Delhi government’s Principal Secretary (PWD), Mr K K Sharma has been asked by the Chief Minister, Ms Sheila Dikshit to file a detailed report on the incident, officials said. Describing it as an “unfortunate incident,” PWD chief engineer said one of the pins might have fallen causing the collapse. Deputy Commissioner of Police (South), Mr H G S Dhaliwal said a case of accident was being registered in connection with the collapse. Details are being sought from the engineering department and investigation will be held, he said. A team of Crime Branch officials also visited the spot and launched parallel investigations.
According to hospital authorities, five labourers are critical. They have been identified as Triveni (resident of Sasaram in Bihar), Jitender, Sunil Rawat and Unni. While Triveni has critical chest and head injuries, Jitender has a head injury, Rawat has a fracture in the leg and Unni has received head injuries, Medical Superintendent of the AIIMS Trauma Centre, Dr M C Mishra said. Nineteen others are stable, Dr Mishra said. Four workers, aged between 25 and 30 years, were taken to Safdarjung Hospital. The have been identified as Raju, Jassi, Ashok and Mohammad. “All the four have limb injuries. Depending on the X-ray result we can say if they can be administered a plaster or they will have to undergo a surgery,” duty officer at the hospital said. The accident site was immediately cordoned off. Huge cranes and earthmovers were pressed into service to clear the debris while gas-cutters were used to dismantle the huge iron bridge which collapsed. A case under Sections 336 (rash and negligent act), 337 (causing hurt) and 338 (causing grievous hurt) of Indian Penal Code has been registered. “The Crime Branch is also assisting the probe by the local police,” a senior police official said.