99-year-old Frere Road bridge in south Mumbai closed for traffic

Commuters in south Mumbai are likely to face further hardship, as the British-era Frere Road bridge near Grant Road station has been closed for dismantling and re-girdering work

The British-era Frere Road Over Bridge (ROB) located near Grant Road station in south Mumbai, has been closed for traffic from midnight of January 16, 2020. The closure of this east-west connecting ROB is likely to bring hardship for motorists and local residents. The traffic situation in south Mumbai is already badly affected, due to the ongoing metro and other civic works.

“Road users can use Kenedy ROB towards the south side and Falkland ROB towards the north side for crossing, during the time this ROB is closed for re-girdering,” said Ravinder Bhakar, chief public relations officer of the Western Railway (WR). The Western Railway said the British-era ROB, built way back in 1921, will be closed for dismantling and re-girdering work. Bhakar said the estimated cost of re-girdering is Rs 9.60 crores.

The IIT Bombay had conducted the structural audit of the bridge in September 2019 and observed corrosion and pitting in the connections between longitudinal and cross girders. “After the audit, the IIT had recommended for immediate repair of the girders as emergency measures and suggested for  its re-building as a long-term solution,” said Bhakar.

 


PWD to inspect 20,000 bridges in Maharashtra

In a bid to avoid bridge collapses, the Maharashtra Public Works Department has said that it will inspect of 20,000 bridges across the state

December 6, 2019: The Maharashtra Public Works Department (PWD) will soon undertake inspection of 20,000 bridges across the state, to assess their condition and prevent incidents like bridge collapses and other mishaps, an official said on December 5, 2019. The exercise will help in maintaining the bridges in good condition in all districts of the state, PWD, Nagpur’s superintending engineer Vidyadhar Sardeshmukh said.

“There are nearly 20,000 bridges which will be thoroughly examined, including the British-era arch bridges. The state will spend Rs 20 crores on this exercise. Bridges having a minimum length of six metres or more, will be examined as part of the exercise. Since bases of many bridges remain under water, the inspecting agency will take the help of divers, to assess the foundation of such bridges,” the official said. Several other aspects, including the strength of a bridge, will also be studied, he said.

Sardeshmukh said the Nagpur PWD office has already floated tenders, for appointing a consultancy to take up examination of bridges across the state. The examining agency will submit its report and suggestions to the PWD within a period of six months, following which repairs of bridges will be undertaken. “The agency will also monitor the repair works for three years,” he added.

 


CAG to carry out structural audit of Mumbai’s bridges: Government

Following concerns over the dilapidated state of several bridges in Mumbai, the state government has announced that the Comptroller and Auditor General will conduct the structural audit of bridges in the city

June 27, 2019: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) will conduct structural audit of bridges built in Mumbai by the local civic body in the last five years, the Maharashtra government said, on June 26, 2019. The government made the announcement about the CAG’s audit of Mumbai’s bridges, which have been in the news recently due to faulty work, in the legislative council. Minister of state for urban development Yogesh Sagar said, “The CAG will look into the construction of bridges in Mumbai. We will fix a timeline, of bridges which were constructed in the last five years, for CAG audit.”

See also: Mumbai Coastal Road: HC red flags damage to environment by present generation

The government also assured the upper house that modern technology will be used, in the construction of new bridges in the financial capital, which has seen mishaps involving foot overbridges (FOBs) in the last few years. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “We will construct the new bridges with modern technology. We have already started use of modern techniques for inspection of the (existing) bridges.”

Leader of Opposition Dhananjay Munde raised the issue of condition of bridges in Mumbai through a starred question. “The commissioner and chief engineer of the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) are responsible for the collapse of the (CSMT) bridge. There should be stern action against them,” Munde demanded. Responding to him, Fadnavis said, “Action will be initiated only after someone is found guilty of dereliction of duty.” Along with the Indian Railways, MMRDA (Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority) and BMC have carried out inspections of the bridges in their respective jurisdiction, the chief minister maintained.

 


Mumbai CSMT bridge collapse: Indian Roads Congress’ guidelines not followed, says charge-sheet

A charge-sheet filed by the Mumbai police in the CSMT foot over-bridge collapse, has said that the firm which carried out the structural audit, did not follow the guidelines laid down by the Indian Roads Congress

May 10, 2019: The guidelines of the Indian Roads Congress (IRC) were not followed, during the structural audit of the foot over-bridge (FoB) linking the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) railway station, which collapsed in March 2019 and claimed seven lives, a charge sheet filed by the police on May 9, 2019, said. The charge-sheet was filed in the Esplanade court in Mumbai, against accused Neeraj Kumar Desai, whose firm, Prof DD Desai’s Associated Engineering Consultants and Analysts Pvt Ltd, had conducted the structural audit of the FoB.

The 709-page charge-sheet, which contains the statements of 85 witnesses, said Desai’s firm had mentioned in its audit report that the FoB was in a ‘good condition’. Several guidelines of the IRC pertaining to the structure of bridges, were not followed during the audit. The IRC is the apex body of highway engineers in the country.

See also: MMRDA to strengthen 21 FOBs on Eastern and Western Express Highways, in Mumbai

The base of the bridge was not audited, the charge-sheet said. Among others, the investigators recorded the statements of Geo Dynamics, which conducted the non-destructive test (NDT) and two eye-witnesses. The investigation revealed that the NDT test was conducted at 16 spots but not in the portion which collapsed, the charge sheet said. Police said they have sent the cement slab and other construction material of the bridge for forensic test and its report is awaited.


Mumbai CSMT bridge collapse: Two civic engineers file bail pleas

Two BMC engineers, arrested in connection with the foot-over bridge collapse in south Mumbai, have moved separate bail pleas before a Mumbai sessions court, claiming the case against them was ‘false and concocted’

April 17, 2019: Engineers, Anil Patil and SF Kakulte, working with the bridges department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), have moved fresh applications before additional sessions judge MS Azmi, on April 15, 2019, claiming that they have been ‘falsely implicated’ in the case pertaining to the collapse of the foot-over bridge (FOB) near Chhatrapati Maharaj Shivaji Terminus (CSMT) and have nothing to do with the said offence. The allegation against them is ‘false and concocted’ and there is nothing on record to involve them in the crime directly or indirectly, they said.

The duo was arrested days after the 40-year-old bridge, connecting the area near the Times of India building with the CSMT railway station in south Mumbai, collapsed on March 14, 2019, killing seven people. Earlier, their bail pleas had been rejected by the Metropolitan Magistrate Court.

The accused claimed that even admitting that they had not done their job properly, in the worst case scenario, can merely be dereliction of duty and not the IPC sections applied in the case. They have been booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and other relevant provisions of the IPC.

See also: Maharashtra has the highest number of polluted rivers in the country: NGT

Culpable homicide not amounting to murder, invites maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

In its reply filed before the court on April 16, 2019, the police said the accused were not present on the spot during the structural audit of the bridge even for a single day. It is mandatory to carry out the inspection of such bridges before and after the monsoon but the accused never did so, the police said. Their bail applications will come up for hearing on April 18, public prosecutor Mangesh Arote said.

Mumbai bridge collapse: BMC union condemns arrest of engineers

A union of engineers of the BMC has condemned the arrest of two civic engineers in connection with the collapse of the foot overbridge near Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus

April 5, 2019: In a letter addressed to civic chief Ajoy Mehta, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Engineers’ Union (BMEU) said that the engineers working in the bridge department could not be held solely responsible for the collapse of the foot overbridge (FOB) at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) that had left six people dead. So far, two engineers of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) – assistant engineer SF Kakulte and executive engineer AR Patil – have been arrested by the Mumbai police, in connection with the FOB collapse.

See also: BMC serves notice to commercial establishments in Mumbai’s iconic Esplanade Mansion

The BMC engineers are ‘civil servants’ carrying out their ‘specified duties’, the BMEU said. “Municipal engineers are always overloaded with work, due to the shortage of staff. In this case, the exact cause of the bridge collapse is yet to be established. Further, a consultant was also appointed to give structural a stability report of the bridge. It is also understood that some cosmetic changes were carried out, under the control of assistant commissioner in ‘A’ ward, in 2016. In such cases, only engineers working in the bridge department cannot be held responsible,” the letter said.

“If there are any lapses in the supervision or any other service, punishment for that should be given as per the Municipal Service Rules,” the union said. Referring to the collapse of a British-era bridge on Savitri river at Mahad in Raigad district of Maharashtra, during the 2016 monsoon, it said it was appropriate that no action was taken against engineers in that case, as it was an ‘accident’. “The arrest of engineers, who are civic servants, gives a very bad message to the engineers working in the BMC. In future, such action will definitely prevent the entry of good engineers in the BMC,” it said.


Mumbai bridge collapse: BMC assistant engineer arrested

An assistant engineer of Mumbai’s civic body has been arrested, in connection with the collapse of the foot overbridge at CSMT station

April 2, 2019: The Mumbai police, on April 1, 2019, arrested an assistant engineer of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), in connection with last month’s foot overbridge (FOB) collapse at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) that had left six people dead. This was the second arrest in the case.

The accused, SF Kakulte, working with the bridges department of the BMC, was taken into custody after interrogation by the Azad Maidan police. “We have arrested an assistant engineer and further investigation is being done by our officers,” said DCP Manjunath Singe, a spokesperson of the Mumbai police. Kakulte was booked under IPC Section 304A (causing death by negligence), another official said.

See also: BMC serves notice to commercial establishments in Mumbai’s iconic Esplanade Mansion

A preliminary report into the collapse submitted by the BMC said that the structural audit of the foot overbridge at CSMT railway station in south Mumbai, was not carried out correctly. It suggested major lapses when the structural audit of the FOB was carried out on August 13, 2018.


Mumbai bridge collapse: Structural auditor sent to police custody

A local court has remanded structural auditor Neeraj Kumar Desai, who was arrested in connection with the foot overbridge collapse in south Mumbai that left six people dead, to police custody till March 25, 2019

March 20, 2019: Neeraj Kumar Desai, a director at Prof DD Desai’s Associated Engineering Consultants and Analysts Pvt Ltd, the firm that was contracted by the Mumbai civic body to audit the ill-fated foot overbridge at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT), has been sent to police custody till March 25, 2019. The firm was given a contract by the Mumbai civic body to audit the ill-fated bridge at CSMT railway station, along with 74 other foot over-bridges across the metropolis.

See also: Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train: NCP calls for scrapping of project after Mumbai bridge collapse

The structural auditor has been booked under IPC section 304-II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) by the Azad Maidan police. Offence under the section is punishable up to life imprisonment. Desai, who was arrested on March 18, 2019, was the first arrest in the case. He was produced before a magistrate’s court, where the police sought his custody for carrying out further probe into the March 14 tragedy. According to the police, Desai’s firm had submitted incorrect structural audit report of the 40-year-old bridge. The police sought Desai’s custody on the ground that they had to recover documents related to the audit report and also look into the roles of civic and railway officials.


Structural auditor arrested for Mumbai foot overbridge collapse

A structural auditor was arrested in connection with last week’s foot overbridge collapse that left six people dead, police said

March 19, 2019: The Mumbai Police, on March 18, 2019, arrested Neeraj Kumar Desai, whose firm DD Desai’s Associated Engineering Consultant and Analysts Private Ltd, had reportedly carried out the structural audit of the foot overbridge connected to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) railway station, which collapsed. Desai’s firm had declared it safe for use despite some corrosion in the structure, they said. “We detained Desai Sunday (March 17, 2019) after ascertaining negligence on his part and arrested him,” deputy commissioner of police (zone I) Abhishek Trimukhe said.

See also: BMC panel clears 69 civic contracts worth Rs 500 crores in 1 hour

He said the police had recorded statements of 31 people, including the injured, eyewitnesses and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials, including Sanjay Darade, chief engineer of the bridge department. “During our investigation it has been found that the concerned structural auditor was aware about the condition of the foot overbridge but he neglected the fact,” the DCP said.

Police initially booked officials of the Mumbai civic body, who were responsible for its maintenance, and the Central Railway (CR) under section 304-A (causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code, but rescinded the move later. That section was removed and section 304-part II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the IPC was imposed against Desai, police said.


BMC asks Pune firm to carry out audit of 157 Mumbai bridges

Following the collapse of a foot overbridge in Mumbai’s Fort area, the BMC has appointed a Pune-based consultant, to carry out inspection of 157 bridges in the metropolis and submit a structural report within one month

March 18, 2019: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), in a letter on March 16, 2019, directed Pune-based CV Kand Consultants Private Limited to carry out the structural audit of 157 bridges in Mumbai, on a ‘most urgent’ basis. “You are directed to re-inspect all the sites and review the structural report of all 157 bridges within one month’s time and submit the same with detailed investigation and recommendation,” the BMC letter stated.

See also: Mumbai roads are in bad shape because residents are tolerant: HC

The move comes a couple of days after the deck of a foot overbridge connected to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) railway station collapsed on the evening of March 14, 2019, killing six people and injuring 31. In 2016, CV Kand Consultants Private Limited had made an inventory of 157 bridges, road overbridges on railway tracks, foot overbridges, flyovers and vehicular subways in Mumbai’s western suburbs.

The civic body also issued a show-cause notice to DD Desai’s Associated Engineering Consultants and Analysts Private Limited, on inventory of bridges in the city. It asked the firm why it should not be blacklisted and losses be recovered from it. Earlier on March 15, 2019, the BMC, in its preliminary investigation, had found that the structural audit of the FOB which collapsed was flawed and a diligent one could have avoided the tragedy.


6 dead, 31 injured, as foot overbridge collapses in Mumbai

In the second incident of bridge collapse in Mumbai in eight months, six persons were killed, when a section of a foot overbridge connected to the busy Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus in south Mumbai, collapsed on March 14, 2019

March 15, 2019: Six persons were killed and 31 injured, after a section of a foot overbridge near a busy train station in south Mumbai collapsed during evening rush hour on March 14, 2019, officials said. The bridge connected the area near the Times of India building with the iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus railway station. The injured have been admitted to nearby hospitals, a disaster management cell official said.

Just after the incident, Mumbai Police had tweeted: “Foot overbridge connecting CST platform 1 north end with BT Lane near Times of India building has collapsed. Injured persons are being shifted to hospitals. Traffic affected. Commuters to use alternate routes. Senior officers are on spot.” A case has been registered against officials of the Central Railway and the BMC in connection with the incident, police said. “We have registered an offence under section 304A (causing death by negligence) of the IPC at the Azaad Maidan police station,” said Manjunath Singe, spokesperson of the Mumbai Police.

Civic authorities started dismantling the remaining portion of the overbridge late night, after the collapse. Additional municipal commissioner of the BMC, Vijay Singhal, said the remaining portion of the damaged bridge is being dismantled manually. He said action will be taken against the firm that conducted the structural audit of the bridge. Deven Bharti, joint commissioner (law and order), said that police ‘will, for sure, launch an inquiry into the incident’. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said a high-level committee will probe the circumstances under which the 40-year-old overbridge collapsed.

See also: Mumbai’s CSMT junction to get makeover on the lines of New York’s Times Square

An eyewitness said the south Mumbai overbridge was being used by pedestrians, even as repair works were ongoing. Several motorists were also under the bridge when it came down, which led to an increase in the number of injured, an official said. Another eyewitness said most of the victims were walking on the overbridge, on their way to the CST station, when it collapsed. “Thankfully, when the bridge collapsed, it was red signal at the nearby road, otherwise several people would definitely have been crushed under the rubble,” said a taxi driver, who escaped the tragedy.

Lawmakers and local party leaders rushed to the spot as a political blame-game ensued. Arvind Sawant, the local Shiv Sena MP, said, “This bridge was under minor repairs after the audit of all bridges in the city. Action will be initiated against the responsible officials.” Local BJP MLA Raj Purohit also visited the spot and demanded immediate action against the engineer who had declared the bridge as ‘safe’. “He should be arrested right now. He is responsible for the entire disaster.” Local Shiv Sena corporator Sujata Sanap said she had alerted officials about the structure, but they did not act in time. “I have been pursuing the issue of this unsafe bridge for long and also wrote so many letters to officials but they were ignored.” Congress leader Milind Deora said murder charges should be slapped on auditors who inspected the bridge and the BMC officers who appointed them. The collapse will be jointly probed by BMC and Central Railways, said Vinod Tawde, district guardian minister of Mumbai.

The tragedy comes eight months after another bridge collapsed in suburban Andheri, in which five persons were killed. In July 2018, a portion of a road overbridge had collapsed in suburban Andheri. Railway minister Piyush Goyal had then announced a joint safety audit of all 445 bridges in Mumbai. Following the order, the railways, the BMC and IIT-Bombay had conducted a safety audit.

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