As the chaos over the collapse of almost 50-year-old Majerhat Bridge in West Bengal which stood in a congested part of south Kolkata escalates, the Public Works Department (PWD) minister, TMC’s Aroop Biswas, has been apparently absent from the scene.
Biswas who seems to be incommunicado with his core department- PWD, which is one of the most important departments in the state’s infrastructure space, had his phone either ‘switched off’ or ‘unavailable’ after the bridge collapsed as he prefers to accompany the CM to Darjeeling rather than oversee the rescue and the relief work. While West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and minister of urban development, Firhad Hakim coordinated the rescue work, Biswas was nowhere to be seen.
Biswas is one of the most popular TMC leaders, especially among the celebrities in the film and television industry of Bengal, an erstwhile Left bastion. He made it to the headlines last year for arrogantly not following Centre’s order on the use of red beacons on cars seeking to end the VIP culture. Soon enough, he accelerated to power when Banerjee entrusted Biswas with the responsibility of strengthening the party’s base in the sensitive Darjeeling area. Courtesy the proximity he has shared with Mamata since her days as a fiery Opposition leader, he steadily rose from being a councillor in Kolkata Municipal Corporation to a Minister handling sports and youth affairs and later got the opportunity to flash the position of PWD Minister.
However, since his elevation, Biswas has been seen to be lackadaisical towards his core department. Even though this mishap can be considered as one of the biggest failures of the department, strangely, no comments have come in so far from the minister himself, who is heading the department responsible for the maintenance work of the bridges and flyovers across the state. According to sources in the state secretariat, the CM’s office has instructed the principal secretary of the department to take charge of the situation.
Despite several complaints from the local people and traffic police, the repair work of the Majerhat bridge, which stood for almost 50 years wasn’t ever taken into consideration. The department, in fact, only chose to go for some patchwork on the surface of the road. This mishap can be considered as a blatant example of the department’s negligence.
In April, we had reported how the West Bengal government is yet to dismantle the remaining portion of the Vivekananda flyover that had collapsed in 2016. Even after being aware that the remaining portion of the damaged structure that can collapse anytime is a constant threat for people living there, the department chooses to turn a blind eye.