Mumbai: Sion ROB's Non Closure Despite Safety Warnings Continues To Put Lakhs Of Lives In Danger

Mumbai: Sion ROB's Non Closure Despite Safety Warnings Continues To Put Lakhs Of Lives In Danger

CR officials say they want the demolition to take place as soon as possible since any further delay will endanger people's lives.

Aishwarya IyerUpdated: Saturday, July 06, 2024, 03:40 PM IST
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Mumbai: Sion ROB's Non Closure Despite Safety Warnings Continues To Put Lakhs Of Lives In Danger | File Image

Is the Mumbai traffic police playing with the lives of Mumbaikars? That is the question which emerges since the department is not giving No Objection Certificate (NOC) to Central Railway to demolish and reconstruct Sion railway overbridge (ROB) which was declared unsafe by the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, in 2020.

Central Railway officials said they are ready to dismantle and rebuilt the critical bridge in front of Sion station even during monsoon. However, the onduracy of the traffic police is holding up the crucial Rs 50-cr project. Said a C. Rly official: ``If we get the NOC today we will start work tomorrow."The ROB provides a crucial link between Sion and Dharavi. 

 While the railways blame the traffic police for not providing NOC for demolition, the  traffic authorities, who had earlier provided the NOC, thrice, this time they are still mulling over the “other aspect of “planning to prevent traffic chaos and inconvenience to people”.

Last month, the Traffic Police announced restricting heavy vehicles from plying on the ROB for which they installed height barricades at both ends of the bridge. However, the structural audit demands the complete closure of the bridge, which is still being discussed by officials of  Central Railway and the  Traffic Police.

CR officials say they want the demolition to take place as soon as possible since any further delay will endanger people's lives.

Joint police commissioner (traffic)  Anil Kumbhare told FPJ on Friday that  “The sudden closure of the ROB may lead to traffic chaos and major inconvenience to people." He said the closure is being done in a calibrated manner so that citizens get used to the traffic diversions. At present, heavy vehicles have been banned from using the ROB and they are being rerouted through other roads. In the next step light motor vehicles will also be debarred. Thrice, the decision to close down and demolish Sion ROB was announced by CR with the traffic authorities issuing new diversions for motorists, but it was postponed citing reasons like Lok Sabha elections, board examinations of class 10 and 12 students, etc.

`` We will provide the NOC for demolition once all aspects of planning and executing are covered,” Kumbhare added. The IIT Bombay in its Structural Audit Report submitted in April 2020, in the category of structural strengthening, said, “Defects like severe structural crack in concrete member, buckling of concrete elements, huge cavity in deck slab, reinforcement is completely corroded, structural crack in PSC Girders, loss of pre-stressing, etc,” adding that the structural strengthening should be done within 3 months from the date of submission.

In the category of structural repair, divided into concrete element and steel components, it stated that defects on concrete beyond the cover portion are damaged, while 15 percent of steel is corroded, bearings are rusted or dislocated and the expansion joint has failed. The time frame suggested was within 1 year. Both need major repairs, it added.

Highlighting the deterioration of ROB, it said that the cement concrete deck slab and parapet wall are ‘unsafe’ and should be repaired or rehabilitated within three months (from the date of submission) and if not, the bridge should be closed for use.

Despite these clear warnings from experts such as IIT, the ROB today continues to be open for not just motorists, but pedestrians and hawkers – putting them all at risk, including commuters travelling in the trains passing below the

ROB, mainly Central line local trains and long-distance trains. The Sion ROB, made in 1912, is a vital link between Dharavi, Lal Bahadur Shashtri Marg, and the Eastern Express Highway – which altogether grips major chunks of Mumbai’s traffic situation. This ROB is also a prime connector of east-west traffic, which in all terms will be disrupted once it closes down. However, during the previous announcement of ROB closure, MTP had provided a meticulous diversion plan to avoid congestion in the central, western, eastern and south regions of the city. 

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