Kolkata Bridge Collapse: Mamata Banerjee Stuck in Hills With No Flights Out, Blame Game Starts
West Bengal chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, tried to take a chartered flight but that was not available, they are only able to receive information from the rescue team on ground.
File photo of West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee.
Kolkata: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who was in Darjeeling on Tuesday on an official visit, said she tried to return to Kolkata to oversee rescue work after the bridge collapse in Majerhat but there were no flights out.
Banerjee said she was very worried, but was unable to return as there were no flights in the evening. “We are receiving information from the rescue team on ground. We want to go back as soon as possible. There are no flights in the evening, we are unable to do so," she said. She said she tried to take a chartered flight, but even that was not available. “We failed,” she said.
The chief minister said the priority is to rescue everyone trapped safely. Officials said that one person has died while 21 injured have been taken to nearby hospitals. Rescue operations are still underway and the death toll could rise. Five teams of the National Disaster Response Force, police and the fire brigade were engaged in the rescue work.
“After rescue, we will inquire (about the cause for collapse). If negligence (is) found then action will be taken. Tomorrow, I’m returning to Kolkata. I want a serious inquiry. Criminal action will be taken if (anyone is) found guilty,” she said.
The state government has announced Rs 1 Lakh for the deceased’s kin and Rs 50,000 for the injured. This was the second biggest civic disaster in the recent past in Kolkata. Earlier, on March 31, 2016, a portion of the Vivekananda Road flyover had collapsed, leading to the deaths of 27 people.
The CM said that a probe panel under the chief secretary will be formed and a forensic investigation team was sent to the spot to ascertain the cause of collapse.
A blame game, however, has already started, with the BJP alleging negligence on the part of the state government after it emerged that the bridge had undergone “surface repairs” a little over a month ago.
BJP’s Mukul Roy placed the blame for the collapse squarely on the shoulders of Banerjee.
State government and CM are responsible for this bridge collapse. They are saying beautification of city is on, but repair work of old constructions is not on her mind. State government should take complete responsibility for this collapse,” he said.
The state’s governor, Keshari Nath Tripathi, also said the bridge deserved better maintenance. “There was a report on a pit here for quite some time, I don't know whether PWD noted it. PWD and Railway administration had the responsibility to maintain it. Matter requires investigation,” he said.
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