**Bhubaneswar: ** As precious lives have been lost from the tragedy, questions are now being asked as to who is actually responsible for this catastrophic overbridge collapse at Bomikhal – is it just the contractors building the overpass haphazardly or the authorities, whose negligence allowed such incompetent people to carry on work at such a significant structure, situated at such an important thoroughfare.
The blame game has already begun with Nalinikanta Pradhan, EIC-cum-Secretary, Works Department, Government of Odisha, whose department was in charge of the project clearly blaming the contractors – Panda Infra for the mishap.
The Secretary, Works Dept, after blaming Panda Infrastructure for this tragedy, said they will be brought to the book and punished. Executive Engineer Bansidhar Praharaj and Assistant Engineer Kishore Rout, couple of officers involved in the project have already been identified as the scapegoats for this disaster and suspended immediately.
In reply to questions as to why construction of the overbridge which had begun as early as 2012 and was supposed to finish by 2014 was allowed to linger for five years without any signs of completion, the Secretary cited some land acquisition issues as well as utility shifting problems as the reason for the delay, as the flyover should have been completed by last December, which was their deadline.
However, when upon further query as to why, Panda Infra were allowed to procrastinate the construction of the project and no quality checks carried out by the Department during the delay, the Secretary reluctantly admitted his Department were at fault, though he said, providing medical aid to the injured ïs our first priority now.”
A departmental inquiry has been ordered by the Works Dept, who would be sending two special teams to inspect the site on Monday to ascertain the cause of the overbridge collapse.
Nevertheless, there’s no denying the fact that since the construction began half a decade earlier several accidents have occurred killing many people on the road where the overbridge is under-construction.
Local residents as well as commuters have endlessly complained of a high level of pollution and total lack of safety while plying on the roads under the overpass.
The overbridge stands on Cuttack Road, one of the busiest, yet congested roads of the capital city.
Though the CM has ordered exemplary action against those responsible for this accident, it remains to be seen whether that is carried out in true spirit.