(Photo by Bhushan  Koyande)
(Photo by Bhushan Koyande)

Mumbai: In yet another shocking incident of foot over bridge collapse, the spotlight has again turned on the issue of structural audits in Mumbai city. The Kasab Bridge — as it was notoriously called — was constructed in 1984.

BLAME GAME: Regretfully, the blame game over the collapse ensued between the Railways and the BMC even before the victims were identified.

MINOR REPAIRS: The BMC claims, as they had done during the July 2018 Andheri bridge collapse, that they were given the task of maintenance. Shockingly, the BMC had completed floor repairs on the bridge two years ago.

“This was not a dangerous or threatened bridge. It was listed in the category of structures requiring minor repairs. In fact, a tender for undertaking the minor repairs was to be passed soon; the work would have begun thereafter,” said an official.

Mumbai mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar said, “It was a railway bridge and the audit was done. We had even got a ‘No Objection Certificate’ from the railways for the repair work.” Meanwhile, the cover up has begun with Education Minister Vinod Tawde asserting that no single authority can be blamed for the mishap.

“It only needs to be ascertained whether the bridge was to remain shut before the repair work was undertaken,” said Tawade. The BMC maintains 344 bridges, which includes flyovers, FOBs and skywalks; it had earmarked Rs 108 crore in the 2019 budget to carry out major and minor repairs on bridges and for their reconstruction, if need be.

BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta has ordered an internal inquiry. Former Member of Parliament and Congress leader Milind Deora, in turn, has demanded that police should book all errant and negligent officials for ‘murder’. “The foot over bridge has collapsed despite being structurally audited six months ago.

This is absolutely unacceptable. A First Information Report should be filed against the BMC officers responsible; they should be booked for murder, under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code,” said Deora. This is just the beginning of the slug match between the railways and the civic body; the former comes directly under the BJP government while the BMC is ruled by ally Shiv Sena.

Hours after the bridge collapse, Azad Maidan police booked the concerned officials of the Central Railway and the BMC under Section 304A (causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code.

At the time of going to press, the police had not revealed the names of the accused officials. Manjunath Singe, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operations), merely said, “The process of registering an FIR is underway. Further updates will be given.”

LOCATION: The ill-fated overbridge, built in 1984, connected CSMT platform 1 at the north end of the railway station with B T Lane near the Times of India building.

UNDER REPAIR, BUT IN USE: The foot overbridge was under repair but still in use.

PEAK HOUR: The collapse took place at 7.30 pm — the rush hour when footfall is at its peak.

WHO WAS IN CONTROL: Railway Ministry says overbridge was under control of the BMC, but Sena lawmaker Anil Desai denies the claim.

WHY WAS IT NOT CLOSED: Maharashtra minister Vinod Tawde said the bridge was not in a bad condition; it required minor repairs for which work was underway. Why it was not closed until the work was completed – that will be probed.

SAFETY AUDIT: The FOB at CSMT was covered under a safety audit which was ordered when another foot overbridge collapsed in Andheri last June. The audit had encompassed 445 bridges of the city.

LAST TIME, IT WAS DESIGN FLAW: When the 40-year-old bridge at Andheri station had collapsed after heavy rains, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had said the bridge had a “design flaw”.

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