Carelessness, unprofessionalism kill 18 in Varanasi
By Anand Mathew IMS
Varanasi: One of the heavy beams of a flyover under construction on the Grand Trunk Road in Varanasi city, fell down at around 5.20 p.m. on May 15 evening killing under it 18 people, mostly travelling in four wheelers and two-wheelers.
More than 30 people have sustained injuries and are admitted in various hospitals nearby. Two among them are in critical condition. The incident happened 250 meters away from the highly crowded Varanasi Junction railway station and bus depot.
The flyover has been under construction for the past three years. Two huge beams 70 feet long, placed two months ago on bearings on the top of pillars slipped down. The local media report that the slip may have occurred in the heavy storm which came three days ago, the beams may have slipped from the top of the bearings.
It is evident that the accident occurred due to total carelessness and lack of discipline and professionalism in the work style of the builders.
Uttar Pradesh Bridge Corporation was carrying out the work. This corporation is infamous for its slow pace and unprofessional style of work. The beams weighing many tons fell down with a big thump at a time when the heavy vehicular movement was extremely slow due to a traffic jam in front of the railway station. The beams thus crushed five four wheelers, a three wheeler and some 20 motor cycles and scooters.
A public transport bus too came under the falling beam, crushing two passengers to death. Some four to six passengers of the bus have sustained injuries. The major reason for so many vehicles coming under the beams is that the traffic was not diverted from the spot where the construction work was going on in full swing.
Members of the civil society of Varanasi have expressed their anger over the callous ways in which the ‘development’ projects are being carried out. Varanasi being the parliamentary seat of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, some developmental works were taken up. The construction of this fly over began three years ago and has been going in an extremely slow pace.
But now there is a rush to complete these projects before March 2019, in view of the general elections in April 2019. The PM had announced that he would make Varanasi in the model of Kyoto city of Japan.
Vallabhacharya Pandey, a Gandhian social activist, commented that the rush to make Varanasi Kyoto in the most unprofessional manner has caused the accident. There are many projects such as Ganga Pathway, Vishwanath Temple Corridor and for none of them has parameters of safety.
Pandey says what the people of Varanasi is not Kyoto, but fostering the ancient city’s legacy and heritage sites. A large number of people are upset with the administration’s big rush to demolish ancient temples, heritage buildings to make wide roads in the many centuries-old narrow avenues that lead to the Vishwanath Temple, one of the twelve Jyotirlingams of Lord Shiva.
This temple has been in the limelight, as a mosque (known as Gyanvapi Masjid) stands adjacent to it. The mosque was built by emperor Aurangazeb in 1669 after destroying the age old temple. In 1780 Queen Ahilyabai Holkar reconstructed the temple. There have been many attempts to demolish the mosque.
People committed to secularism and composite culture are wary and anxious fearing that the attempt by the nationalist party in power to build wide roads to this temple may be a preparation for an unholy act as was done in Ayodhya in 1992. A series of meetings have been conducted by the secularists against the demolition drive which is going on unabated, demanding that the citizens do not want a Kyoto but Kashi, with its age old spirituality of freedom and composite character.
The people of Varanasi have shown immense courage and generosity in coming to the rescue of the victims of the flyover accident. A large number of people volunteered to take out the victims from the mangled vehicles and helped the administration. When this reporter reached the spot, he also noticed police trying to chase away a teeming crowd of onlookers and hundreds of them active with their online mobile videography.
However, carelessness and unprofessionalism have claimed 18 lives in the holiest city of Hinduism.