At least 18 people have been killed and 11 injured , after a portion of an under construction overpass collapsed on a busy road near the railway station in Varanasi, on Tuesday.
Nine vehicles, including a bus, two SUVs, two cars, auto-rickshaws and two-wheelers lay in a twisted, mangled heap, triggering panic and chaos in the peak evening hours, reported The Times of India.
According to a video that has surfaced on ABP News, some of the grieving families, in a disgraceful incident, were asked to pay Rs 300 per body by the hospital as a bribe to get the post-mortem conducted.
Scheduled to be inaugurated last December, the flyover was being constructed by Uttar Pradesh State Bridge Corporation. The four officials - chief project manager HC Tiwari, project manager K.R Sudan, assistant Engineer Rajesh Singh and engineer Lal Chand – have been reportedly held “prima facie” responsible for the incident and have been suspended.
An FIR has been lodged against the supervisory officials and contractors at the Sigra Police Station on the complaint of sub-inspector Dhananand Tripathi.
Responding to the situation, CM Yogi Adityanath announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the kin of those who got killed and Rs 2 lakh for people who suffered severe injuries.
DGP OP Singh, while handling the rescue process in Varanasi, 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.”
In order to carry out the rescue operation, assistance from National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) comprising 350 personnel, Army Medical Corps and police was taken. However, it must be noted that the rescue operations began after an hour, which led to further deaths of the people who were trapped under the debris.
“Luckily, few passengers were seated in the bus when the beams fell. We rescued them from the wreckage and rushed them to hospital on auto-rickshaws. But pulling out trapped people from mangled SUVs, cars and two-wheelers was impossible for us,” The Times of India quoted an eye-witness as saying. Many of those trapped were also reported to be labourers who were working on the flyover.
Earlier this Sunday, a major tragedy was averted in Ludhiana city, where a retaining wall of a flyover collapsed, reportedly because of severe rodent problem in the area. Since the traffic on flyover was stopped in advance, there were no injuries or casualties.
Accounted as negligence of the officials, in 2016, citizens in Kolkata experienced a similar collapse of a flyover, killing at least four people and injuring dozen others.
In a nation where, unfortunately, accidents of this kind are far from rare due to multiple reasons such as faulty design, poor quality of raw material and lack of supervision, it becomes consequential for the state to prepare a comprehensive strategy for disaster management.
While desiring for an inclusive plan to manage the aftermath of such catastrophe, availability of reliable data becomes an impediment. According to The Wire, serious gaps in the data, which results in the harms and sufferings not being captured, presents a distorted scenario.
The Lok Sabha constituency represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has received huge funds under smart city development plan and a Varanasi-Kyoto partnership was signed during Prime Minister’s visit to Japan. The only fear is that with weak foundations and the dereliction of official duties, the cooperation and experience of Kyoto will only result in a smart Varanasi city with weak ‘pillars’ which can collapse.