The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is yet to demolish as many as 11 “dangerous bridges” in the city, some of which have been made off-limits for pedestrians. The structural audit report released by the BMC in September last year had recommended demolition and reconstruction of 14 extremely dangerous bridges, including five foot overbridges (FOBs) across the city. Three of them have been demolished but 11 are still to be razed.
After a FOB at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) collapsed on Thursday claiming six lives, the need to demolish the bridges identified as dangerous has become urgent. The civic body, however, appears to be dragging its feet. After the tragedy struck at CSMT, 10 km away, two bridges near Marine Lines may require to be razed urgently, civic officials warned.
An official from BMC’s bridge department said, “Two FOBs mentioned in the audit reports, which are in Chandanwadi connecting Marine Lines stations, were suggested for reconstruction. While pedestrian traffic has been stopped, the FOBs are yet to be demolished. Both FOBs are steel structures and one can clearly see the corroded iron bars and beams. This could be another disaster as the Maharshi Karve Road carries heavy traffic towards Churchgate, Nariman Point in south and Girgaum and Opera House in the north. During peak hours, commuters take share taxis near these bridges.”
“Likewise, other bridges in the western and eastern suburbs are yet to be demolished. Recently, contracts were awarded for repair works on some of the bridges that were part of the reconstruction list,” the official added.
When The Indian Express visited the site, the Marine Lines FOBs were closed for pedestrian but demolition was yet to start.
According to the list, some of the other bridges are Hans Bhugra Marg bridge in Santacruz, Walbhat Nalla in Goregaon, Ramnagar Chowk, Kandivali, Hari Masjid Nalla in Kurla, Veer Sambhaji Nagar in Mulund need to be reconstructed.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Chief Engineer of Bridges department, Sanjay Darade said, “We will expedite the repair and reconstruction of the bridges that were declared dangerous. The FOBs in Chandanwadi at Marine Lines stations will be dismantled on a priority basis in next few days.”
Another official said that FOBs near the Tilak Nagar railway station, Yellow Gate FOB in Masjid East and Gandhi Nagar bridge in Malad were demolished in 2018 by the railways and BMC.
After the structural audit report was made public last year, the BMC had promised that the extremely dilapidated bridges will be demolished and reconstruction work started in the next six months. Seven months later, however, the plan has moved at a snail’s pace.
The civic body had suggested phase-wise demolition so that traffic movement on the roads under the bridges is not disrupted.
Opposition leader in BMC, Ravi Raja said, “By not speeding up the process of demolition and repair of the bridges, the BMC is allowing people to die in CSMT FOB-like incidents. The BMC should review the audit reports of all the bridges. I have written a letter to Azad Maidan police station to take an FIR against the consultant and BMC officials. If there is any emergency repair work, then the civic commissioner can approve funds and do remedial works…”