BMC, Railways, IIT-B to jointly audit 445 bridges from Friday

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Mumbai, July 5 (IANS) A day after stringent observations by the Bombay High Court, a high-level meeting of the civic and railway administrations, besides the IIT-B, on Thursday decided to start detailed audits of all 445 bridges in the Mumbai suburban railway networks area from Friday, an official said here.

A dozen teams comprising experts from BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Western Railway (WR), Central Railway (CR) and the Indian Institute of Technology, (IIT-B) will be formed, as the three organisations finally got cracking on the issue.

These teams will take up the technical audits of all 445 structures like road overbridges, foot overbridges, pipelines, flyovers, skywalks, etc, which pass over the railway tracks on the CR and WR suburban system, the lifeline of Mumbai’s daily eight million commuters, spanning Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad districts.

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“As per directives of Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, the high-level meeting was held at the BMC office. It was attended by Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta, WR General Manager A.K. Gupta, CR General Manager D.K. Sharma and engineering heads of all the three organisations,” WR spokesperson Ravinder Bhakar told IANS.

“We shall ask the IIT-B experts to suggest if they have any advanced technology for the speedy repairs or reconstruction of the stressed bridges,” he added.

Bhakar however ruled out the possibility of taking help of the Indian Army which had helped construct three other railway bridges on the Mumbai suburban section with record speed last year after the September 29 stampede at Elphinstone Road station which killed 23 commuters.

The audits of all these structures shall be completed within a time-frame of three-four months, he added on the development which came two days after a portion of the Gokhale Bridge in Andheri crashed, paralyzing Mumbai on Tuesday.

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A division bench of the Bombay High Court comprising Justice N.H. Patil and Justice G.S. Kulkarni, while hearing a PIL filed by Mumbai Congress leader Smita Dhruva, made stringent observations asking the BMC not to shirk its responsibility when any incident pertaining to civic amenities affects the citizens of Mumbai.

Additionally, at Thursday’s meeting in the BMC, the heads decided to order repairs or reconstruct the stressed bridges on priority without procedural delays, with precedence given to the oldest structures, with complete coordination among various agencies.

The three organisations shall also conduct regular monthly meetings of top officials, clear issues about designs, drawings, approvals, land issues, etc, to speed up the required works.

They would also explore the feasibility of creating a special corpus fund for the purpose of an appropriate amount, to ensure financial resources are readily available, especially for undertaking works of urgent nature or in emergencies.

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However, the work on those bridges and structures already identified for repairs or reconstruction, would be taken up on top priority without procedural delays.

The CR and WR heads urged the BMC chief to initiate a drive to remove encroachments on the pedestrian pathways on all bridge which corrode and weaken the structures.

–IANS

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