In a hugely controversial statement, the Infrastructure company IVRCL which shares the contract for the collapsed Vivekanand Bridge in Kolkata, on Thursday said that the incident was nothing but an act of God.
“This particular job has been given to us by the Government of West Bengal and we are doing this work. We have already done 60 to 75 percent of work and the remaining is supposed to be completed. That is still in the process.. it is nothing but ‘Gods act’,” K. Panduranga Rao, Group Head (HR administration) for IVRCL told reporters in Kolkata as reported by news agency ANI.
“So far in 27 years, we must have constructed a number of bridges and it has never happened. as a company, we are also in shock… two of our engineers are also missing. The bridge is still under construction, just one girder has missed, because of that, it has happened it seems. that is how it looks,” he added.
The death toll in the collapse of an under-construction bridge in Girish Park area of North Kolkata has risen to 14 and 78 others are injured, said Kolkata Police, adding that fatalities could mount.
The West Bengal Government has announced an ex-gratia compensation of Rs. 5 lakh to next of kin to the victims and Rs. 2 lakh to gravely injured people.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday condoled the loss of lives and directed the officials to extend all possible help to the West Bengal Government.
“Shocked and saddened by collapse of under construction flyover in Kolkata. Took stock of the situation and rescue operations,” Prime Minister Modi said in a tweet.
“My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives in Kolkata. May the injured recover at the earliest,” he added.
“Prime Minster Modi is in touch with officials in New Delhi, has instructed the army and the NDRF to give all possible assistance to the state government in the rescue operation,” Government of India spokesperson Frank Noronha told ANI.
Rescue operations are underway to recover people still stuck under the debris.