The planned blasting of the 30-year-old Chandani Chowk bridge in Pune took longer than expected as the structure did not completely collapse by the explosions. The demolition was carried out at 1 am on Sunday. The blasts led to enormous and dense clouds of dust with concrete flying in the air. The earthmover machines and trucks that were on the stand by then took over after the explosions to clear the rest of the bridge.
Although the traffic was scheduled to reopen at 8 am, officials with the traffic department said that it will take a few more hours as the debris of the bridge wasn’t cleared till that time.
“The highway has not been reopened. The bridge did not collapse completely in the blast, the JCB machines are taking it down. The deadline of 8 am, which was given earlier in anticipation that the bridge will fall entirely in the blast, will be pushed by a few hours. We will reopen the traffic only after the debris is competely shifted out of the way,” said Rahul Shrirame, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Pune Police.
Speaking to the media persons soon after the blasts took place, demolition expert Anand Sharma who supervised the operation, said that that the bridge contained much more steel than estimated.
“The blast has occured as per our planning. The quantity of steel in the bridge is much more that what was estimated. The middle pier of the bridge remains stuck above, through abutments have been fallen and concrete has come off. We need to take down the steel with the folkland machines and then it will collapse. In 4-5 hours it will be completely cleared. We will try to stick to the time frame given by the administration,” Sharma added.
The traffic on the road, which was closed on Saturday 11 pm, was supposed to be reopened at 8 am on Sunday, as per the announced plan.
“The bridge will be demolished between 1 am and 2 am. It will be a six second exercise. We are confidant that the traffic will be reopened by 8 am Sunday,” Sanjay Kadam, Project Director, National Highways Authority of India had told The Indian Express.
The government hired Edifice Engineering for controlled demolition of the bridge which was proving to be a major bottleneck for the traffic on the busy national highway connecting Mumbai with Bangalore. It is the same company that was assigned the demolition of Noida twin towers about a month ago.
The government had said that a total of 600 kilograms of emulsion explosives will be used to undertake the controlled demolition. To avoid the debris of the bridge flying in the area outside the periphery, 6500 channel links, 7,500 square meteres of geotextile , 500 sand bags and 800 metres rubber mats will be used. Residents liiving within 200 metre periphery were shifted out.