Bomikhal, Bargarh or Bhubaneswar Airport mishaps: Is Low Cost Bidding Turning the killer?

The line of technical investigation will be on the type of formwork (centring and shuttering) erected. To cut cost what material was used for formwork.

Bhubaneswar:  In the last three years, the caving in of roof of a building under construction at Biju Patnaik International Airport (BPIA) here is the fifth such successive lethal collapse in Odisha.

In this mishap, a life was lost and another injured person is still under treatment at the Capital Hospital here.

What’s big about the recurrence of such workplace mishaps is it underlines the fact that neither the State government nor the project authorities (here AAI) are seen giving emphasis on the safety clause in such contract works.

Is the practice of awarding contract to the lowest bidder responsible for rising burden of such civil construction work mishaps in the State?

Consider this.  As per the information provided by the Project Officer, BPIA, the cost of this project has been estimated at Rs 56 crore. The project is awarded by Airport Authority of India (AAI), Delhi HQ. And the bidder (Dilip Construction Private Ltd) quoted a bid that is 3 per cent less than the justified cost of project (Rs 55cr), which is almost equal to the project cost .

Now, the fact is the mishap resulted on Friday night is due to collapse of the formwork (centring & shuttering).

As per a top source in Public Works department, the primary reason behind all such collapses, as per investigations done by Works dept, is putting the formwork (centring & shuttering structure) at a lower cost. “This is the usual practice of Constructions firms,  the low quoted bid amount is result of cutting expenditure in such temporary  works,” the source revealed.

As per the source, the cost of formwork is estimated at around 20-25 per cent of the total project cost, which means the cost of this formwork at BPIA should have been around Rs 11 -13 crore. But the collapse showed the cheap work done, the source emphasised.

Speaking to, BPIA Director VV Rao said, ” A high-powered technical expert committee from head office of AAI will visit the spot to conduct a technical study.”

So what should be the line of technical investigation? As per high-ranking engineer officials in the Works Department here, the line of technical investigation will be on the type of formwork (centring and shuttering) erected.

“In such a project, steel shuttering is mandatory. Because steel shuttering will withstand the load of concrete and other work materials,” explained a senior engineer and added that construction firms also use timber shuttering, which is not permissible in the current type of project. And steel shuttering is 99 per cent collapse proof, he claimed.

Constructions firms to cut costs use timber shuttering at times, which has many disadvantages and prone to workplace mishaps, he elaborated.

Significantly, a revelation to fore is though this awarded BPIA project is first such civil construction work for the firm Dilip Construction Pvt Ltd,  the builder firm is now implementing contract projects awarded under the Shri Jagannath Temple Corridor Project. The firm is also involved in Bhubaneswar Sessions court building.