Now, half-built Vytilla overbridge under scanner for shoddy work

Now, half-built Vytilla overbridge under scanner for shoddy work
Workers at the construction site of Vyttila overbridge. File photo

Kochi: Public works are often mired in row over alleged corruption and poor quality of construction as has been alleged in the case of two road bridges in the heart of Kerala's commercial capital, Kochi. Even as efforts are on to rectify the faults of a flyover at Palarivattom, alleged irregularities in the construction of a road overbridge at Vytilla near it are being pointed out.

The quality control wing of the Public Works Department (PWD) has reportedly given a report that flagged the low-quality concrete used for overbridge construction. This was found during a recent examination.

Sreedhanya Constructions was given the contract for the overbridge construction. Earlier it was alleged that not enough water was used for concrete curing. More results of the examination are awaited.

The PWD and the builder have to conduct the first phase of examination and submit reports. However, these reports are yet to be submitted.

The quality of the concrete in deck slab and girder were found to be unsatisfactory. Though the PWD wing has instructed the company to rectify the faults, the firm is yet to reply. The report also pointed out that senior officers, including the executive engineer, did not turn up at the site to check the concrete mixture or supervising the works.

Kodungallur sub-division executive engineer is in charge of the project. Even the officials of the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) that is funding the project and the Kerala Fund Board that signed the contract are not following up on the construction, it is alleged.

The Vigilance department has also been given a copy of the report. About 70 per cent of the construction has been completed at Vyttila. Concreting works on deck slab are progressing.

Now, half-built Vytilla overbridge under scanner for shoddy work
Palarivattom flyover. File photo

Minister flays officers

Public Works Minister G Sudhakaran has claimed that the government has not received any report that pointed out at faults in the construction of the Vytilla overbridge.

He said that a Vigilance probe would be held to find out how the report on the irregularities was leaked.

"The engineer gave the report to other parties. The officials would have to reply," the minister said. Manorama News had aired the news on the report about the irregularities in the flyover construction.

A committee to supervise the construction of Vyttila and Kundanoor flyovers was set up with PWD department principal secretary Kamalavardhana Rao as the commissioner and chief engineers as its members.

The contract company of the flyover has informed that it had conducted checks by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras. Apart from this, the government has also asked the national highway chief engineer to depute IIT Madras to for special examination.

"The assistant engineer executive of the PWD wing, who is aware of all this, is giving information to those outside the government at every stage before the final assessment can be made. The national highway authorities had informed the government about this on Saturday. Such reports are creating apprehension among the public. The government would never tolerate such acts," the minister said.

The government had earlier sought an explanation from the contract company that stalled work for a day allegedly for not getting money for the project.

"However, officers spread a rumour that the work was stalled due to irregularities. Would approach the Chief Minister for ordering police, Vigilance probe into it as sabotage attempts are suspected," he added.

"It has come to the notice of the PWD department that several prominent personalities in Ernakulam had indulged in shady deals over the construction of the Palarivattom flyover. The government would check if attempts are being made by the officials to establish that Vytilla flyover too was faulty.

"There is no cause for concern over Vytilla overbridge. If there are any faults, experts would check and rectify them. Only if such a report is received can action be taken. Till now, no such report has been received. The government would seriously check if any lapses were made at the official-level," he said.

Builder refutes charges

The construction company, Sreedhanya Constructions, has vouched for the quality of the concrete used for building the Vytilla flyover. It dismissed rumours that the company did not check the samples.

The company blamed the tussle for power within the PWD officials that led to the current crisis. The firm further said that it has not stopped construction works.

The concreting works would be completed within two months. The company officials also said that they have not received any instruction to stop the works.