The head office of IVRCL, which was constructing the flyover in Kolkata, a portion of which collapsed on Thursday killing 26 people and injuring many, was raided by CID sleuths of West Bengal and Telangana at Banjara Hills here on Friday and Saturday. They confiscated files relating to quality and material mixing procedures of the ill-fated structure. They seized files concerning a mishap in IVRCL’s drainage contract work in Hyderabad that claimed two lives in 2009.
On Saturday, Kolkata police probed how IVRCL escaped any punitive action from the then Andhra Pradesh government for a drainage slab collapse on 15 July 2009 which claimed the lives of two workers and injured five others, by paying a compensation of around Rs 5 lakh each to the kin of the victims. The labour department had then recommended the blacklisting of IVRCL, but there were no follow-up actions from the government.
A team of Kolkata sleuths led by ACP Jayanta Chakravarty along with an ACP of the Hyderabad police conducted searches at the IVRCL’s head office in the past two days and is likely to stay here for two more days. The team issued notices to IVRCL’s chairman and managing director, E. Sudhir Reddy and four others of the company to appear before them by Monday.
Often embroiled in charges of political corruption and defaulting on deadlines, IVRCL has for the first time landed in a criminal case as Kolkata police has registered a case against it under IPC Section 302, among others, for the flyover tragedy. IVRCL chairman and managing director E. Sudhir Reddy has disappeared and has not been available to journalists since Thursday. Even senior Telangana police officials tried to track him down, but to no avail. “We got a request from the Bengal police seeking cooperation to grill the CMD and we are on the job,” a CID officer preferring not to be quoted told The Sunday Guardian.
However, two second-rung executives of the company — K. Panduranga Rao, vice-president HR and administration and P. Sita, head of legal and corporate affairs — held a media conference here on Friday and said that there could be a sabotage angle to the flyover collapse. “We heard some eyewitnesses saying that there was a bomb blast like sound at the time of the mishap,” said Sita. Both Sita and Panduranga Rao maintained that there was no compromise on the quality of the material that was used for the flyover. “We used the same mix of material for all the pillars and slabs; we don’t know why the last one collapsed. Though the works were delegated to some subcontractors, a usual practice, we take all responsibility for the quality maintenance,” they said.
IVRCL representatives subtly pointed to the possible role of the West Bengal government in delaying the construction work for the past two years, which resulted in mounting pressure on the firm to complete it by March or before the Assembly elections. They said, “Yes, there was some delay in the construction of the flyover, though we got the project in 2009. But, we are not alone responsible for the delay in the works (meaning the government, too, has a role).”