A DAY after the foot overbridge (FOB) at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) in Mumbai collapsed claiming six lives, the BMC on Friday got an FIR lodged against DD Desai’s Associated Engineering Consultants and Analysts Private Limited for allegedly conducting the bridge’s structural audit in an irresponsible and negligent manner in July last year.
The civic body also de-empanelled the company from its structural auditors list and issued a showcause notice for blacklisting it and further preventing it from undertaking structural audit work.
Hours after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis demanded that responsibility for the collapse be fixed by Friday evening, Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta submitted a preliminary report to him. The report stated that there is prime facie reason to believe that the structural audit has been conducted in an irresponsible and negligent manner. “The tragedy could have been avoided if the audit was done diligently,” it added. The company had submitted the audit report to the BMC in August, last year.
Mehta went on to suspend and order departmental inquiry against two BMC officials — executive engineer A R Patil and assistant engineer S F Kakulte — for failing to supervise the structural audit work and failing to supervise repair work in 2013, respectively.
Departmental inquiry was ordered against retired deputy chief engineer R B Tare and retried chief engineer S O Kori. “If such major repair works were carried out, it is surprising to note that how the then engineers failed to identify and attend to issues that could lead to the collapse of the bridge,” the report stated.
Further, BMC issued a showcause notice for blacklisting RPS Infrastructure, which undertook the repair work in 2013. The report stated, “Prime facie it appears that the repair was undertaken without any due examination or study of the bridge condition.” A probe to determine the cause of the collapse, status of the bridge and structural audit was also ordered.
The report stated that that since BMC has approximately 374 bridges under it, it will appoint a full-fledged “chief bridge inspector” within a month. The inspector will determine the frequency of inspections, define templates of reports and responsibilities as well as recommend remedial measures if any bridge is in a dangerous condition.
The BMC will also withdraw work awarded to the DD Desai’s company and hold back all pending payments. The company had surveyed 39 bridges in the island city at a contract worth over Rs 63 lakh. In addition, the BMC ordered the re-auditing of all the 39 bridges in the island city undertaken by the company. It also asked the two firms, tasked with auditing bridges in the eastern and western suburbs, respectively, to re-examine their earlier audit reports, confirm the earlier findings or suggest further remedial measures, if necessary.
The Mumbai Police said that it would move to prosecute the persons named in BMC’s preliminary findings after studying the report. “We are carrying out an independent investigation and have completed procedures related to those who died and were injured in the collapse. We are also studying CCTV footage and will record statements of eyewitnesses. Once we look through all documents and reports pertaining to the bridge, we will decide our further course of action,” said Abhishek Trimukhe, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone I.
Meanwhile, 31 injured in the collapse are at present admitted at G T Hospital and St George hospital. On Friday, three of the injured at GT hospital underwent surgeries and are currently stable. Three others were shifted to a private hospital. “All patients at the hospital are stable,” said Dr Mukund Tayade, a senior doctor at the hospital. At GT Hospital, which lost three of its nurses — Apoorva Prabhu, Bhakti Shinde and Ranjana Tambe — while they were on way to the hospital for night shifts, a prayer meeting was held. “Many are still in shock. There was a discussion with the health minister on offering jobs to the kin of the deceased staffers,” said a senior staff member.
An official of St George hospital, where some of the injured were admitted on Thursday, said: “Four patients have undergone surgeries for fractures. Two more will undergo surgeries tonight. Six patients were discharged.” One of the injured, Raju Shetty (24), who suffered head injuries, was shifted to JJ Hospital where he underwent a surgery.
(Inputs from Sadaf Modak, Srinath Rao)