Three-member panel to oversee repair of Palarivattom bridge

Three-member panel to oversee repair of Palarivattom bridge

Kochi: A high-level expert panel will be formed to oversee the repairing of Palarivattom Bridge. The panel comprising three chief engineers will provide technical help to the agencies strengthening the bridge.

The panel will ensure that repairs are carried out scientifically. It will work in collaboration with the IIT, Chennai.

A few days ago a team of experts from the IIT had estimated that at least three months would be required to fix the flaws of the bridge.

Kerala PWD Minister G Sudhakaran has warned contractors and engineers to be careful as recent reports exposed the shoddy construction of bridges in Palarivattom as well as at Enath in Pathanamthitta district.

The strength, aesthetics and longevity of bridges should be ensured. The overseer too has this responsibility, the minister stated.

Contractors should build bridges properly and on time by rectifying any errors that might happen in consultations with engineers, he added.

The PWD will consider slapping non-bailable charges on contractors who compromise on quality, Sudhakaran added.

The matter is being discussed with the Law Ministry.

The shoddy construction of the Palarivattom flyover in Kochi has put the spotlight on the Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala Ltd (RBDC) which was behind the project.

The shoddy construction of the Palarivattom overflyover in the heart of the city has put the spotlight on the Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala Ltd (RBDC) which was behind the project. A team of experts from the IIT, Chennai, has estimated that at least three months would be required to fix the flaws of the flyover located at Palarivattom.

The engineers assessed the condition of the flyover after removing the bitumen top laid earlier.

Poor quality of construction is obvious, the IIT team led by Prof Alagu Sunadaramoorthy noted.

Moreover, the design and construction too were faulty, the team added.

The IIT team handed over its report to the Public Works Department (PWD) and RBDC the other day.

The PWD has said it will carry out every work detailed in it step by step.

Initial work will be done within a month, but no timetable has been provided to carry out the rest and the work on the bearings, said RBDC authorities.

Flawed from the start

It has been assessed that problems during the initial stage of construction led to the instability of the flyover. Internal problems of RBDC, the company that won the construction contract, contributed to this flaw.

There were issues right from the start of the project, said sources who were involved in the building.

The Kochi operations of the RBDC, an autonomous body of the Government of Kerala, were reportedly headed by an MBA graduate who had no engineering background. He was later transferred to its administration section.

Meanwhile, quality was compromised as vested interests allegedly cut corners to seek higher profit.

Cracks in pillars and girders resulted from the poor construction. All these indicate there was widespread corruption aided by Kitco, a technical consultancy, and RBDC.

The representatives of Bangalore-based Nagesh Consultants, which had designed the flyover, now claim the flyover became weak as a result of the wrong placement of its bearings.

These should have been replaced in the first place, they told Manorama. They refrained from making further comments.

However, it is intriguing why the other authorities chose not to address this issue when the flyover designer pointed it out years ago.

It has also come to light that there was no urgency in repairing the flyover. It took safety reports from three agencies for the authorities to take action. There was severe political pressure to complete the flyover within a deadline, it is alleged.

The construction company had left the work half way because of cash crunch. They were called back hastily to complete it. Several top RBDC officials are not associated with the agency now. It has had at least three Managing Directors in the last couple of years.

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