Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis Thursday ordered a judicial probe into the bridge collapse at Mahad, plunging two state-run buses and two private vehicles into the overflowing Savitri river. The CM promised a new bridge in six months.
While police put the casualty figure at 33, Fadnavis said in the Assembly at least 42 people were feared drowned after the century-old bridge on the Mumbai-Goa highway collapsed late Tuesday night.
Fadnavis told the Assembly that 26 people were travelling in the two Maharashtra State Transport buses, while the two private vehicles (one Tavera, the other a Honda City) were carrying eight and four people respectively. Besides, four more are also reportedly missing.
The state government has announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the families of the dead. The Maharashtra State Transport Corporation announced financial assistance of Rs 10 lakh to the families of victims travelling in its buses.
Fadnavis, meanwhile, admitted that heavy rains were hampering rescue operations.
According to the Chief Minister’s statement in the House, five out of the eight bodies fished out were retrieved from Mahad’s Kemburli village. These reportedly belong to those travelling by the state transport buses travelling from Rajapur to Mumbai. The other bodies were recovered from Harihareshwar, Moradi and Anjarle.
Besides the local administration and police, the CM said the National Disaster Response Force, 160 jawans, nine boats, eight divers, seven rafting teams and 35 local divers were involved in the rescue efforts.
The bridge was built in 1928 and connected the towns of Mahad and Poladpur.
A newer bridge built next to it 10 years ago is intact. Fadnavis directed the National Highways Authority of India to review and undertake repairs on the parallel stretch.
A team of IIT experts has been sent to the spot.
The government has also ordered a structural audit of all old bridges across Maharashtra.
At a meeting, Fadnavis urged officials to complete the new bridge in six months using advanced technology and expertise.
At present, there are 2,015 bridges across Maharashtra. Of these, 900 were built during the British era. Thirty-six bridges — the maximum — are located in the Konkan region.
The oldest bridge, dating back to 1877, is located at Kanhan in Nagpur, the hometown of Fadnavis.
In the Assembly, Fadnavis said, “There is no ambiguity that there should be a thorough investigation to ascertain how the bridge was certified to be in good condition in May 2016.”
“We will certain rework the parameters if necessary to make the structural audit process flawless,” he While asserting there should be no politics over a human tragedy, he said, “Let us not forget that former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and former Public Works Department minister Chhagan Bhujbal had a report on the dilapidated condition of the bridge in However, the Congress-NCP too failed to take the necessary steps. So, it is pointless to accuse each other. Instead, my government is determined to act where things have gone wrong and also ensure better mechanism is evolved to avoid such mishaps.”