AFTER THE collapse of the Foot overbridge (FOB) at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) on Thursday, the BMC has proposed to set up a bridge inspection authority (BIA), which will undertake regular inspections and propose remedial actions for bridges.
Currently, the Bridges department looks after repairs, maintenance and construction of new bridges.
The proposal to set up the BIA is part of the suggestions made in the preliminary inquiry report on the bridge collapse, which was submitted to the government by Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta on Friday.
In the report, Mehta had said that the BMC at present has to take care of 374 bridges and it is necessary to have full-fledged chief bridge inspector for regular inspection of these structures. The report also called for the creation of a post of chief bridge inspector, who will be the in charge of the BIA.
According to the report, the BIA will define and set the frequency at which bridges should be inspected. It will enumerate how inspection would be carried out, define the template and formats in which reports would be submitted and also underline responsibilities of various bridge maintenance engineers. The BIA will also have the power to take decisions regarding dilapidated bridges.
“Director (Engineering Services and Projects) will prepare a plan to set up this authority within a month. All inspection-related works will be assigned to this authority. The bridges department will execute construction of new bridges and also undertake repair and renovation works of dilapidated bridges,” said an official from the bridges department. “Soon a meeting will be held and the line of action for setting up the authority will be decided,” the official added.
Activists, however, questioned the need for setting up the BIA. Terming it as a “sham”, many alleged that BMC comes up with a new committee or authority after every big incident.
“As long as there is corruption, there won’t be much difference. After every incident, the authorities propose a new committee or authority to divert public anger and to pass the buck. The chief engineer of every department should be held responsible for any disaster in the city. Nobody is blamed and all actions taken are eyewash,” citizen activist from Matunga, Nikhil Desai, said.
Incidentally, after the Kamala Mill fire, the BMC had set up a fire compliance cell for checking eateries and other establishments. The cell has, however, not been able to act against violators.
Another activist, Zoru Bhathena, said: “What is the use of introducing a new authority? Does that mean that under the existing system, the staff or engineers were not doing any inspection or maintenance work?”
Meanwhile, Congress workers on Saturday staged a protest near Chandanwadi FOB at Marine Lines station for not dismantling the CSMT bridge, risking public safety.