Twenty people involved in the construction of the Mumbai-Nagpur Super Communication Expressway were killed when a 700 metric tonne viaduct launcher gantry and a 1,250 metric tonne girder collapsed at Shahapur on Monday.
The incident occurred at 11.30pm at Sarlambe Village in Shahapur Taluka, where a team of 28 people were involved in preparatory work for the next day.
The concrete section between Piers 15 and 16 and the launching gantry crane standing on the piers collapsed from a height of 35 metres, said Suresh Abhang, Executive Engineer, Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC).
Rescue work by villagers, the National Disaster Response Force and the Thane Disaster Response Force continued till Tuesday evening, NDRF Commander Deepak Tiwari confirmed.
The project to erect a 2.38-kilometre-long bridge on the expressway, which is also known as Hindu Hridaysamrat Balasaheb Thackeray Maharashtra Samruddhi Mahamarg, was awarded to Hyderabad-based Navayuga Engineering Company Ltd.
This private entity had appointed VSL India Pvt Ltd to launch segments of viaduct using specialised launchers.
“Only three or four companies do this type of work worldwide. Till date the work of 98 spans out of 114 spans, including the complete left hand side, has been successfully completed,” Abhang said.
Navayuga Engineering has been working on the three-kilometre stretch between Birwadi Village and Amne Village, in Thane district, since November 2018. The engineering consultants for this portion of the construction are Intercontinental Consultants & Technocrats in joint venture with Yuksel Proje Uluslararasi AS and Streamline Infrastructure.
On this 37-km stretch of the expressway to be built by the Hyderabad-based company, five flyovers, one rail over bridge and two interchanges will be constructed. As is the norm, the company had let out work for this flyover to VSL India, the Indian arm of the Switzerland headquartered company.
Engineering experts to investigate the cause of the accident
Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Tuesday announced that engineering experts will investigate the cause of the accident. Meanwhile, police have registered a case of death due to negligence and endangering lives of people against the contractors.
Attempts to reach Navayuga Engineering Company were unsuccessful.
The next of kin of the deceased will get ex-gratia of ₹2 lakh from the Union government, ₹5 lakh from the Maharashtra government, Navayuga Engineering Company and VSL India. So far, 600km of the expressway between Bharvir near Igatpuri and Nagpur has been opened for public use.
MSRDC officials have set a deadline of 2023-end to complete construction of the balance 101km between Bharvir and Thane.