THE BMC’S decision to re-audit 223 bridges in the suburbs will further delay the start of repair work of bridges that were categorised as requiring major repairs in the last audit reports submitted to the civic body in August 2018.
Officials said the process of appointing contractors for the repair work has been held off until the re-audit is completed. Until then, all the bridges, including those listed for major repairs, will remain in use for pedestrians as well as vehicles.
Following last Thursday’s foot overbridge collapse at CSMT, which killed six persons, the BMC has issued letters to auditors Structwel Designers & Consultants Private Limited and C V Kand Consultants Private Limited to carry out re-audit of bridges in western and eastern suburbs, respectively.
“While in western suburbs, the consultant is supposed to review 157 bridges, in eastern suburbs, 66 bridges needs to be reviewed again in one month. We have prepared tender documents for the repair of many dilapidated bridges on the basis of the old audit reports. But now since the consultant will re-audit the bridges and submit a fresh report, it will delay the process,” said an official from the bridges department.
For bridges in the island city, a new consultant will be appointed for the re-audit as the earlier firm, Prof D D Desai’s Structural Engineering and Analyst Private Limited, is being blacklisted after the bridge at CSMT collapsed. In its last audit report, the firm had declared the bridge as being in a “good” condition. It was given the contract of auditing of bridges in island city in 2016.
In January and February, the BMC had awarded contracts of more than Rs 80 crore for repairing and reconstruction of over 50 unsafe bridges across the city. “Some of the repair work has already been awarded to contractors. Three tenders were floated for repairs of bridges before the CSMT bridge collapsed. Now, these could be re-invited if the re-audit reveals different results. Also, it is unlikely that the re-audit will be completed within one month considering the large number of bridges,” the official said.
Another official from the department added, “By the time tenders will be floated and new contractors appointed for repair work, monsoon will arrive. Then, no repair or construction work can be carried out.”
The structural audit reports of bridges were submitted to the BMC in August, 2018. Officials blamed long tender processes, the slow processing of files at various stages, including the Standing Committee, and not finding contractors for the delay in awarding the contracts.
After the CSMT bridge collapse, among the 11 highly unsafe bridges, the BMC has shut down four. The Indian Express had reported on March 16 that out of the 14 extremely dangerous bridges, 11 are still standing. However, only after the CSMT incident, the BMC has ordered the demolition of extremely unsafe bridges one after the one.
Corporators alleged that it is only after tragedy strikes that civic officials start repairing bridges. BJP corporator from Juhu, Aneesh Makwaney, said: “In February, I had complained about the dilapidated condition of the skywalk in Vile Parle West. The officials inspected the skywalk and said that it requires repair. However, nothing happened. Now, on Monday, an official texted me to say that the FOB will be shut for repair from Tuesday.”
Despite repeated attempts, chief engineer of bridges department, Sanjay Darade, did not respond to calls.