Responding to West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee’s allegations that the Railways has been delaying the construction of Majerhat Bridge, the Eastern Railways said on Twitter that all the codal formalities from the Railways have been completed concerning the Majerhat Bridge and it is only awaiting the mandatory safety certificate from the PWD department of the West Bengal government.
“All codal formalities prior to the opening of the ROB have been completed. It is expected that mandatory safety certificate from PWD will be received shortly for giving clearance by Railways. No other issue is pending with Railways,” the tweet said.
Mandatory safety certificate is awaited from the State Government (PWD). Nothing is pending and no delay on the part of Railways.— Eastern Railway (@EasternRailway) November 26, 2020
In the subsequent tweet, the Eastern Railways informed that there is no delay on the Railways’ part and it is waiting for the state government’s PWD department to issue the mandatory safety certificate.
Mamata Banerjee blames the Railways for the delay in the opening of the Majerhat bridge
The riposte from the Eastern Railways came after Mamata Banerjee yesterday alleged that the Railways has been delaying the construction of the Majerhat Bridge, a part of which had collapsed on 4 September 2018, killing two people.
Banerjee had blamed the Railways for the slowing down of the construction of the bridge, alleging that the department had delayed the clearance for nine months.
Speaking to media at Nabanna, Banerjee said, “For nine months, the railways kept delaying giving permission. You, BJP party, were you sleeping then? For nine months, we had repeated meeting with them, requesting them for clearance.”
Banerjee further added, “For the last two years, people of Behala and South Kolkata have suffered so much because of Railways continued delaying the construction. They did not approve the permission at the right time because of which we are facing this delay.”
The West Bengal chief minister also added that though the bridge looked “completed”, it wasn’t and alleged that only the PWD related work of the bridge is completed. She claimed that there were some technicalities that need to be cleared by the Railways before they gave their 100 per cent clearance and stated that it will take another 7-8 days.
Besides Railways, Banerjee also trained the guns on the BJP, alleging that because of the saffron party, the construction of the bridge had been delayed.
Claiming that she had done enough for the people of Behala, Mamata proceeded on enlisting the development work supposedly carried out by her government in the neighbourhood. “I’ve done the metro in Behala. We are constructing the Majerhat Bridge. I’ve named a stadium after Satyajit Ray in Behala. All kinds of development work in Behala has been done by me,” she said.
Clashes broke out between Police and BJP workers over the delay in construction of the bridge
Banerjee’s allegations came in the wake of the clashes that had broken out between the West Bengal police and BJP workers after the latter were stopped short of the Bridge in the southwestern part of Kolkata. The police had placed barricades to stop the BJP workers from marching towards the bridge, demanding immediate re-opening.
The police also employed lathi-charge to disperse the protestors. The barricades were set up nearby Taratala More to prevent the BJP cadre from marching towards the construction site, following which the BJP activists allegedly clashed with the police forces. Many of the demonstrators were detained by the police.
Railways issue a press release
The Railways also published a press release debunking the allegations. The press release is reproduced below:
In some media, a news has appeared on 27.11.2020 describing as if Railway is responsible for the delay in opening of Majerhat Road Overbridge (ROB). Following points indicating up-do-date development/status of re-building of Majerhat ROB are placed hereunder for clear appreciation of the problem.
1) Majerhat ROB collapsed in September, 2018 apparently due to maintenance failure. The structure was under the maintenance of PWD, Govt of WB. Initially the Government of West Bengal decided to rebuild the ROB with bow string steel girders, but in January 2019 they changed the decision to rebuild it as a cable stayed type ROB. It led to loss of time by more than four (4) months.
2) Metro Railway Joka – B B D Bag alignment is parallel to the proposed ROB at Majerhat. As per planning made by the engineers of the Government of West Bengal, north-end approach of the proposed ROB was infringing with the Metro Railway alignment. In spite of repeated requests by ER to get the nod of RVNL/Metro regarding infringement of proposed Majerhat ROB before finalizing the alignment of Majerhat ROB, it was delayed by PWD. The matter was at last resolved with the intervention of Chief Secretary of Government of West Bengal, which led to loss of time by more than one & half months.
3) The draft design & drawings of the super structure submitted by the PWD, Government of West Bengal to Railway had multiple (29 Nos.) technical shortcomings. Ultimately, in a meeting held on 4th & 5th July, 2019 by Railways with the foreign designers engaged by the Government of West Bengal and the engineers of PWD, the issue was finally resolved. The final design & drawings for the super structure of the ROB were submitted by the PWD to Railways after about one month of the above meeting.
4) In order to avoid delay, PWD engineers were requested to attend the office of Chief Bridge Engineer/Eastern Railway on 4.11.2019 to comply with the observations made in connection with erection and the launching scheme after a thorough scrutiny thereof. The concerned officials from the PWD finally complied with the observations on 22.11.2019. On 22.11.2019 itself all the drawings & designs have been taken back by the officials of the PWD from the Railway Office for submission of the final drawings as per extant practice for approval of Railway.
5) State PWD on 27.11.2019 submitted 22 drawings on the launching scheme to Railway. After scrutiny by Railway, the number of drawings for the launching scheme was increased from 17 to 22. Railway has approved the designs and all these 22 drawings on 28.11.2019 and PWD was requested to take away the approved drawings for filling of Commissioner Railway Safety application etc.
6) The Commissioner Railway Safety (CRS) application for erection & launching of girder was submitted by the state authority to DRM/Sealdah on 2.12.2019. DRM/Sealdah has filed the Commissioner Railway Safety (CRS) application for erection & launching of girders to Commissioner Railway Safety, Eastern Circle on 4.12.2019. Commissioner Railway Safety Eastern Circle’s approval was accorded on 28.2.2020 with some stipulations.
7) The final drawings of the bearings were submitted on 26.08.2020 and were approved by this Railway on the same day.
8) Joint Safety Certificate received from State Govt on 27.11.2020 and submitted to CRS EC on date after signature of Railway Authority. State Govt. Has also been informed in writing on date that all statutory formalities regarding the ROB involving this Railway have been completed and they are now at liberty to take further action for arranging its opening for public.
It may be appreciated that nothing was left pending with Eastern Railway and there was no delay on the part of the Railway. Eastern Railway is always keen to complete job in coordination with all the agencies associated with construction of Majerhat ROB including PWD, Govt of WB and has taken all steps for early completion of the work.