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THE COLLAPSE of the G K Gokhale bridge over the tracks at Andheri railway station on Tuesday has brought into question the structural soundness of bridges across the city.
A structural audit of the 274 bridges in the city, initiated by the BMC in 2016, is yet to completed. When asked, BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta said while the audit of the 274 bridges in the city has been completed, the report is being prepared. “The report will be completed within a week. We will prepare our action plan based on the report,” he added. Though the Gokhale bridge was constructed and owned by the BMC, Western Railway was supposed to maintain it, said officials of the BMC’s bridges department.
“According to the Railways Act-1989, once the tracks are laid, the facilities/infrastructure over it — like ROBs , FOBs and even nullahs (drains) — are supposed to be maintained by the Railways. After 10 years of laying the tracks, the Railways is supposed to regularly audit the infrastructure. While the owner/civic body will have to bear the cost of this, the Railways will have to carry out the reconstruction and maintenance,” said Shitalaprasad Kori, BMC chief engineer (Bridges).
“For the maintenance of the Gokhale bridge, we had given Rs 23 lakh to the Railways in 2011,” he added. Kori maintained BMC has always sanctioned the cost of reconstruction and maintenance of infrastructure after the Railways submitted the project estimation. “In the last four years, we have given Rs 92.51 crore to the Central Railway and Rs 11.25 crore to the Western Railway after they submitted estimated costs for reconstruction and maintenance of various infrastructure owned by us and located on their premises.”
Following the August 2016 tragedy on the Mumbai-Goa highway, in which a bridge over the Savitri River at Mahad collapsed, claiming at least 29 lives, the BMC had decided to adopt a bridge management system for timely maintenance and reconstruction of bridges. Under this, the BMC had started a fresh structural audit of 274 bridges under its jurisdiction in September 2016. The computerised system involves surveying all bridges for their structural stability, age and durability, collecting information and making a database for future reference.
Among the 274 bridges, some date back to the pre-1947 British era. They include the 146-year-old Carnac bridge, the 135-year-old Hancock bridge that was demolished last year, and the Tilak rail over bridge at Dadar, which is over 90 years old. “They have to maintain the infrastructure on Railway premises as our workers/engineers will not touch the cables, overhead wires and other technicalities. We take care of the cost of maintenance,” said the BMC commissioner.
In all, 137 bridges are located in the western suburbs, 77 in the island city and 60 others in the eastern suburbs. Of these, 115 are over rivers or nullahs, 40 are rail overbridges, 12 are flyovers and 44 are foot overbridges.