The foot overbridge (FOB) that collapsed on Thursday killing six persons and injuring 31, had been declared “fit for use” in a structural audit report submitted just six months ago.
The tragedy has led to questions being raised over the quality of the survey exercise itself. Over two years, contractors appointed by the municipality had audited all the 314 bridges, subways and skywalks in Mumbai.
BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta said, “I have sought a custody of documents related to the structural audit. Once I go through it, the further course of action will be decided… Strict action will be initiated if negligence is found.”
Officials said the FOB is around 35 years old and last repair was undertaken in 2010-11. “In 2016, under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the northern end of the bridge was taken up for beautification but not repairs. The plan included changing the tiles of the bridge and new paint,” said an official.
The survey in question was initiated after a major bridge collapsed on the outskirts of Mumbai in 2016. While the government, which had ordered the survey of all bridges across the state, had directed the agencies to finish the work within three months, the exercise was delayed. It was only in September 2018 when the report was submitted to the civic commissioner. Incidentally, it was only after a road overbridge — Gokhale bridge in Andheri — collapsed killing two persons that BMC had publicised the audit report.
In January this year, BMC eventually sanctioned repairs of more than 50 bridges, flyovers, FOBs and skywalks by spending Rs 65 crore. Officials said that in the structural audit, the bridge at CST that collapsed on Thursday had been marked as “fit” and had only been recommended for “minor repairs”. Of the 314 bridges, the audit had recommended the demolition and reconstruction of 14 bridges, including five FOBs, major repairs to 47 others and minor repairs in the case of another 176. The remaining 77 bridges were declared to be “in sound condition.”
Officials said that in south Mumbai, only three FOBs — Yellow Gate FOB (P D’Mello Road) and two FOBs near the Marine Lines railway station were to be reconstructed. While the estimated cost for the reconstruction, major and minor repair works is Rs 277 crore, the BMC has earmarked Rs 108 crore for it in 2019-20. “Work orders were recently issued for minor repairs,” said an official.
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The bridge connects CST station and has two landings — one outside Anjuman Islam school and the other at BT lane that heads towards the back of Azad Maidan police station and Cama hospital. “Though the bridge is used by thousands, it is difficult to give the exact numbers of pedestrians who use this bridge immediately,” said an official.
— With inputs from Sanjana Bhalerao