Gokhale Bridge-Barfiwala Flyover Height Mismatch: BMC Has Only Itself To Blame; Citizens Demand Accountability

Gokhale Bridge-Barfiwala Flyover Height Mismatch: BMC Has Only Itself To Blame; Citizens Demand Accountability

Shockingly, the civic body knew all along that the the two flyovers were misaligned but did not take any measures to connect them.

SHEFALI PARAB-PANDITUpdated: Friday, March 01, 2024, 09:23 PM IST
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Gokhale Bridge-Barfiwala Flyover Height Mismatch: BMC Has Only Itself To Blame; Citizens Demand Accountability |

Despite committing a huge blunder, the BMC is unwilling to pin the blame on its engineers responsible for the major mismatch in height between the newly-built Gopal Krishna Gokhale Rail Over Bridge (ROB) in Andheri and the CD Barfiwala flyover. It is in no mood to order an inquiry either, despite facing massive flak from citizens. Shockingly, the civic body knew all along that the the two flyovers were misaligned but did not take any measures to connect them. 

Local BJP MLA Ameet Satam was the first to raise concerns about the safety of Gokhale bridge. He ensured that the ROB was demolished and reconstructed. Its closure over a year ago led to a major traffic chaos in Andheri. 

The issue around Gokhale bridge

As part of its reconstruction, two lanes were inaugurated last Monday, bringing some relief to commuters. However, there is a 6ft difference in height between the Gokhale bridge rebuilt by the BMC and the Barfiwala flyover built earlier by MSRDC, which owing to the anomaly is still not accessible. While motorists could earlier take the Barfiwala flyover for Juhu, now they have to take Swami Vivekanand (SV) Road at Andheri Junction.

Civic chief IS Chahal, who is on his way out, claimed that Gokhale bridge was built as per the requirements of the Western Railway (WR). However, no one in the BMC realised that the final outcome would be a huge difference. Civic officials are trying to downplay the error, calling it a “technical mistake”. Several ideas, including a connector, ramp are on the table, as the BMC is consulting VJTI to resolve the situation, according to P Velrasu, additional municipal commissioner (projects). 

Citizens demand accountability

Dhaval Shah, from the Andheri Lokhandwala Oshiwara Citizens’ Association said, “The planning started in 2020 and officials had enough time to find a solution to the gap. The BMC’s bridges department is accountable for the blunder as they should have taken proactive steps.” 

Activist Zoru Bhathena, along with local citizens, has been sending follow-up letters to the BMC and pointing out the deficiency. He said, “After extending the deadline six times, the BMC has opened two lanes but they are yet to start work on the remaining part. The civic authorities have assured to open the entire bridge along with Barfiwala flyover, but the second girder has not yet arrived. Who will take responsibility for the delays and inconvenience faced by the commuters?”

Political row

The misalignment has also sparked a political row with the opposition parties demanding an inquiry. Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Aaditya Thackeray, in his post on X, said the height difference is a result of a corrupt regime. “Shocking what the@mybmc under the BJP sponsored ‘khoke sarkar’ and the corrupt administrator has fallen to. Yes, truly, first in India, probably the world, that the two bridges that were to be joined have a difference of 6ft in height!” 

Ravi Raja, former opposition leader in the BMC said, “The BMC is now passing the buck on the railways, but it is the responsibility of the BMC itself. They have a consultant and technical team with them, and as a head of the team, its administrator (Chahal) is responsible for this mess. An inquiry should be conducted in this matter.”

Chahal in his inaugural speech had said, “The Union ministry is taking the upgrade of railway lines all over India and as per their latest guidelines, any new ROB should be at an additional height of two metres… We have consulted institutions such as VJTI and IIT to look into the issue. The two bridges will be merged by the end of the year and no demolition work will be carried out for this.” 

“The BMC approached us to provide consultancy and we have consented. We are yet to visit the site, but will definitely find a solution for the situation. It’s a very doable problem,” said a VJTI professor.

A senior civic official said, “While Gokhale bridge was shut for traffic from November 2022. If we carried out work for alignment of Barfiwala flyover at the same time, the transportation of materials through vehicles would have to be done via SV Road, resulting in a traffic chaos. So we decided to carry out the work of Barfiwala flyover later along with the remaining portion of Gokhale bridge. We expect the experts to submit the report in the next 15 days.”

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