Action sought against contractor, consultants, engineers
Madikeri: Lashing out at the contractors, project consultants, engineers and PWD officials, Kodagu MLAs K.G. Bopaiah and M.P. Appachu Ranjan have sought an inquiry into the work taken up to construct a retaining wall to protect the Kodagu Deputy Commissioner’s Office from future dangers. They demanded action against those responsible for the present state of affairs of the work for which Rs. 7.5 crore was spent.
The wall is over 140 metres in length and over 40 feet in height. The wall has been built on a steep gradient and now, the slabs of The Reinforced Earth Wall (RE Wall) have dislocated and the entire structure hangs precariously on the Madikeri-Mangaluru Road.
As the slabs are bulging out and are posing a risk of collapse, traffic on the busy road (National Highway 275) has been banned and an alternative road has been provided. Though the wall building technology claimed by the contractor and the PWD engineers as advanced and safe, it has not worked in the district’s weather where it rains for six months a year.
Social media ridicule
Intense criticism on social media followed as the photos and videos of the wall giving way went viral where the integrity of the engineers and contractor was questioned and the elected representatives and Ministers were subjected to ridicule. Amidst all this, the two MLAs visited the spot on Tuesday (July 19) and certified that the works were sub-standard.
Accompanied by Deputy Commissioner Dr. B.C. Satish, the MLAs inspected the retaining wall whose side slabs are bloating and may fall anytime. Continuous seepage of rainwater was cited as the reason for the slabs to dislocate and bulge. The MLAs observed that while it took Rs. 5 crore to construct the DC Office, it took Rs.7.5 crore for the retaining wall to be constructed. More money will be needed to repair it.
They demanded a probe into the retaining wall work, saying that crores of rupees were spent for strengthening the DC Office premises. Ranjan said he was apprehensive about the work from the beginning and was not satisfied with the way it was designed.
“I had raised the issue many times in meetings but the officials kept on assuring me that advanced technology is being used. I had clearly expressed my doubts about the work and told the engineers that the slabs will not last long seeing the design and the work. I will place the matter before the Petition Committee of the State Legislature, seeking action either against the contractor or the engineers whoever is found responsible after an inquiry,” he said.
Incidentally, Mysuru-based Ayyappa Constructions is undertaking the works and ‘Terrarm’, a New Delhi-based structural engineering company provided the technical specifications, structure and design to build the wall. The MLAs wanted to know whether soil tests were done before the work.
Ranjan said he had suggested building concrete walls but some agency in Delhi came up with the new design and went ahead with the work. “Retaining wall using slabs doesn’t last long as it doesn’t suit Kodagu’s soil. The engineers did not listen to me,” he lamented.
Explaining the wall construction to the MLAs, PWD Executive Engineer Nagaraj said, “For the construction of a traditional retaining wall, it requires a 7-metre land. The land near the affected area was less and the retaining wall had to be constructed with only 2 metres of available land. Accordingly, the reinforcement technology, suggested by experts was used. The technology has been successful in other parts of the country,” he claimed.
The MLAs said the retaining wall has not been designed considering the rain situation of Kodagu. “The slabs will fall anytime,” he said, taking the engineers to task. He directed them to finish the repair works and open the road for traffic by Friday (July 22).