Delisle Road Over Bridge is only the latest case of the civic body and railways passing the buck to each other, leaving citizens in the lurch.
The Western Railway (WR) last week decided to appoint a contractor to dismantle the Lower Parel Road Over Bridge (ROB) but the tussle over who will reconstruct the bridge that has been shut down to traffic for over a week continues. Over the last week, the BMC and the railways have been passing the buck on who will reconstruct the new bridge after the Delisle ROB was demolished.
It’s not just this ROB that has been caught between the BMC and railways. Documents accessed by Mumbai Mirror show that the two agencies have been passing the buck over repairs and reconstruction of at least half a dozen bridges in the city. The two agencies have held at least four meetings since 2016 over the repair of the crumbling bridges but no conclusion has been reached on which agency would undertake the reconstruction.
The Delisle ROB, built in 1921, was shut to both traffic as well as pedestrians following a joint safety audit by the BMC and IITBombay undertaken in the aftermath of the Andheri bridge collapse on July 3.
“We will float tenders for dismantling the bridge on August 1 and the tenders will be opened on August 15. We have already written to the BMC asking them to construct the new bridge,” said Ravindra Bhakar, CPRO, WR.
Bhakar pointed out that there should be a uniform policy for building bridges over railway land. “If the BMC is constructing the Hancock ROB then it can construct these bridges too. We will give all the technological and other support to the BMC,” Bhakar added.
Both WR and the BMC, though, have been trying to pin the responsibility on each other for reconstruction of the bridges. Minutes of meetings between the two agencies reviewed by Mumbai Mirror show that the railways had agreed to float tenders and appoint a contractor to reconstruct the ROBs. However, BMC officials pointed out that with the BMC taking up the construction of the Hancock Bridge, the railways have now refused to carry out reconstruction of any ROBs.
Refuting WR’s claim, BMC’s chief engineer bridges S O Kori said only the railways can undertake any construction above the tracks. “We have already communicated this to the railways and told the officials that the reconstruction cost would be borne by the BMC,” he said.
The official said that the Railways Act, 1989, states that over and under bridge works are to be executed by them and the cost of the works as well as maintenance would be borne by the municipality. Senior railway officials, though, insisted that they have “never constructed any ROB” till date and that their role is limited to approving drawings of the portion that passes above railway tracks, supervision during the construction phase and post-construction maintenance.
A senior BMC official rubbished the railways contention and said that WR has already invited an expression of interest for appointment of structural engineers and consultants for rebuilding the ROB in the shortest possible time. “A series of meetings took place between us over the last two years. The railways had already agreed to appoint a contractor not just for the Lower Parel ROB but the other bridges too. Now since it has become a controversial issue, they are trying to wash their hands off,” a senior civic official alleged.
The other five bridges which need reconstruction or repair are Ferere ROB at Grant Road, Belasis ROB at Mumbai Central, Tilak ROB at Dadar, Carol ROB at Prabhadevi and one at Mahalaxmi, he said.