Mumbai: Killer bridge dismantled within hours

A preliminary probe has found that the structural audit was not proper and the repairs undertaken by the contractor were not up to the mark. (PTI Photo)

A day after a part of a busy foot overbridge caved in killing six persons and injuring 35 others, specialised civic teams dismantled the iron structure on Friday.

A preliminary probe has found that the structural audit was not proper and the repairs undertaken by the contractor were not up to the mark.

Even as the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Central Railways (CR) tried to pass the buck on the ownership of the bridge, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis gave a dressing down to the concerned officers.

"We have taken this seriously. The bridge was repaired and audited and found okay. And still, it comes down," Fadnavis said, seeking a report within 24 hours.

This is the third foot overbridge tragedy in Mumbai. On September 29, 2017, there was the Elphinstone Road stampede and on July 3, 2018, there was the Andheri East-West walkway collapse.

The Shiv Sena, which controls the BMC; the BJP-Sena government in Maharashtra; and the Railway ministry have come under fire from all political parties and members of the public.

Meanwhile, several experts and police officers questioned the logic of dismantling the entire bridge just hours after the tragedy, pointing out that vital evidence is now lost.

BMC's chief engineer (vigilance) had submitted a report to municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta, who also came under sharp criticism.

The report pointed at three major issues.

First, the structural repairs undertaken between 2012-14 by the contractor RPS Infrastructure Pvt Ltd was not proper.

Secondly, the structural audit undertaken by Prof P D Desai's Associated Engineering Consultants & Analysts Pvt Ltd between 2016-18 was not correct.

Thirdly, the report found lapses on the part of BMC's supervisory officials involved in the repairs and audit and recommended a full-fledged departmental enquiry against four of them, of whom two have retired.

A copy of the report that is in possession with DH also suggests that the audit company be blacklisted and the ongoing audit works be withdrawn forthwith.

A re-audit of all the audited reports of the firm were ordered by the BMC.

Meanwhile, the Azad Maidan Police have registered an FIR into the incident and applied IPC sections on negligence.

There was also criticism that Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray had not visited the spot or the hospitals where the victims are.

Meanwhile, Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam demanded a probe against Ajoy Mehta. "Such things are happening regularly in Mumbai. Why there is no action against the BMC chief," he asked.

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