OVER EIGHT months after a foot overbridge (FOB) at the northern end of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) collapsed, killing seven persons and injuring at least 30, Bombay High Court on Wednesday granted bail to four persons, including civic officials, arrested in the case.
Assistant engineer (bridges) Sandip Kakulte, executive engineer (bridges) Anil Patil, chief engineer (bridges) Shitala Kori and consulting engineer and director of the firm that audited the FOB Neerajkumar Desai were granted bail on a bond of Rs 50,000 along with other conditions.
The court said prima facie material on record did not suggest the accused had knowledge that their alleged act of omission to verify the thickness of the steel members of the FOB with its original drawings would cause the collapse. The court also asked why the BMC could not make original drawings of the steel members available to the consultants for comparison.
The accused had submitted before the high court that the consultant, Geo Dynamics, had suggested the comparison of the thickness of steel members of the FOB with the original drawings at the time of the construction in 1992, but it could not be done as the drawings were not available.
“It is not clarified by the prosecution, whether drawing of FOB was available when the tenders were invited, and if were not available, how tenders were invited, awarded and how credential certificate was issued? Next question is, whether the corporation has taken efforts to trace it? And whether the corporation has fixed up the liability on the concerned staff member of design department? Further, the corporation could not make the drawing available from the company which constructed this FOB,” Justice Sandeep Shinde said in his order.
He added that it was “surprising” that the original drawing was not made available even to Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute that had submitted a report after the collapse. The court said the consultants could not verify the thickness and BMC officers “took no pain” to make them available for proper Non-Destructive Test. “Had corporation’s officers submitted drawings of the FOB to the consultant, exercise to measure thickness of members of FOB with drawing and further action to strengthen the bridge, possibly could have avoided the mishap,” it added.