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Odisha workers’ body demands CBI probe into Mahanadi bridge collapse

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Oct 31:

The Odisha Forest, Wood, Agriculture and Building Construction Workers’ Union has demanded a CBI probe into the collapse of a portion of the Jatamundia- Subarnapur bridge over river Mahanadi in Odisha’s Cuttack district on August 27 this year.

Briefing newsmen here on Thursday, president of the Union Sura Jena said that despite the claim by the state government that only 11 workers were injured in the bridge collapse, the figure is much bigger.

He said the delegation of the Union, during its visit to the mishap site on October 20, has found that the concerned contractor and the Works department have deliberately given wrong information about the number of the injured workers.

Stating that neither the contractor nor the Labour department has the exact number of injured workers – of which most are from West Bengal and the four Odisha districts of Nuapada, Kalahandi, Bargarh and Koraput – Jena said the workers were not even registered under the Construction Workers Act.

“Even though the bridge is being constructed under the direct supervision of the Works secretary, guidelines are being openly flouted and this needs a thorough investigation”, he noted.

Maintaining that the bridge collapse was a well planned conspiracy to loot the state exchequer, he said construction of the 2070-meter-long bridge by the M/S Rajalaxmi Construction Ltd, which had begun on January 10, 2008, is yet to be completed, as a result of which the estimated cost of the bridge has grown manifold.

Besides, the Union leader said though the state government had formed a probe committee and directed it to submit a report within 10 days, the report is yet to be submitted even after three months of the incident.

“Since it is quite evident that efforts are on to shield the guilty, a special committee should be set up to probe into the incident and punish the guilty,” Jena demanded.