KOLKATA (TIP): The inordinate delay in executing the work and Mamata Banerjee’s subsequent rush to open the 2.2km Vivekananda Road flyover seem to be its undoing, literally.
The 2.2-km Vivekananda Road flyover, being constructed since 2009, has been beset by delays. Has the delay caused fatigue in execution? Amid perpetual postponement, in November last year, chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced opening the flyover by February 2016, not caring that 24% of the work was still left.
With an eye on the assembly elections, the chief minister in November last year-at a Jagaddhatri Puja event-had declared the inauguration of the flyover by February 2016, ostensibly not paying much thought to the fact that 24% of the work was left. Informed by her urban development minister Firhad Hakim that the deadline was implausible, she relented to postpone the date but maintained that it should be finished by September. As a result, immense pressure was apparently put on the implementing agency, KMDA, and builder IVRCL to meet the deadline, the 10th since the project started in 2009.
Hyderabad-based IVRCL bagged the contract on a turnkey basis on February 24, 2009, with a budget of Rs 164 crore and the deadline set at the end of 18 months. But as the construction started in December 2009, the design for the overpass -intended to be one of the longest in the city, connecting Girish Park in north Kolkata to Howrah-had to be changed innumerable times, with around 22 underground utility cables at 35 places between Girish Park and Posta acting as major stumbling blocks. A little over four years later, in February 2014, IVRCL sought a bailout of Rs 74 crore from the state, claiming they found it difficult to manage, given the escalating cost owing to delays.
After a little over six years, only 0.9km of the 2.2km flyover has been constructed, to add up to 59 spans. It is the 60th span that was being cast which collapsed on Thursday. The casting was on for two days, but the work, carried out from Wednesday midnight till 5am on Thursday, was faulty, engineers suspected.