BMC urged once again to rethink plan to raze, rebuild 10 bridges

MUMBAI ;Questioning the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)’s plan to demolish and reconstruct 10 bridges once again, structural engineer Shirish Patel has shot another letter to the bridges department to rethink its plan. On August 26, Patel wrote to Sanjay Darade, chief engineer of bridges department, asking it to take a cue from the recently opened Juhu-Tara Road bridge and reconsider its demolition and reconstruction plan for bridges.

Patel, who is also a member of the citizens’ technical advisory committee (CTAC) formed by the BMC for advice, along with another member V V Nori stated, “You have invited tenders for demolition and reconstruction of the bridge (Juhu-Tara Road). To our knowledge the foundation and piers are quite sound. The channel needs no widening or removal of piers because it has never overflowed. Other options for repair and retrofitting need to be considered. Given the casualness of the audit report and of the load test (no report) the reasons for the rapid-fire decision to demolish and rebuild seem unproven and opaque.”

The letter further states, “This is for only one bridge. Nine others call for similar reconsideration. We think the public you should aim to serve deserves a clearer explanation of your actions. At least your fellow civil engineering professionals should be first convinced that what you are doing is right. All the evidence so far points the other way.”

Earlier, on July 26, Patel had written to municipal commissioner Praveen Pardeshi pointing out that the plan for demolition and reconstruction of extremely dilapidated 10 bridges was “fundamentally misconceived”. Patel had asked for the entire process to be cancelled calling it “unnecessarily costly and troublesome for MCGM, both now and for decades to come”.

Alleging that the BMC did not follow guidelines advised in Indian Roads Congress in case of Juhu-Tara Road bridge, Patel said the bridge was closed based on an audit report and a load test. “The audit consultant did not follow (and was not required by you to follow) the guidelines advised in Indian Roads Congress’ ‘guidelines for evaluation of load carrying capacity of bridges,” he said. He also questioned the opening of Juhu-Tara bridge.

Darade was not available for comment. But a senior civic official from the department said they have followed all suggestions and recommendations.

The civic body plans to demolish and reconstruct 10 bridges spending about Rs 125 crore. These bridges include Pipeline bridge in Hans Bhugara Marg at Santa Cruz East, bridge across Juhu-Tara Road near SNDT nullah, bridge at Gandhi Nagar, Kurar village, bridge across Oshiwara river, Jogeshwari west, and bridge near Laxmi Baug nullah near Ghatkopar BEST depot.

Railway bridges

Following recommendations of IIT-Mumbai, the BMC has proposed to completely scrap layers of 16 bridges passing over railway tracks. The civic body will spend Rs 14.40 crore on resurfacing of these bridges located in the island city. Along with CR and WR, IIT-Mumbai conducted joint inspection of old Rail Over Bridges (ROB) to check their structural stability.

The report submitted by IIT-Mumbai has suggested that the entire surface of bridges needs to be scrapped in a bid to reduce the load and lay new mastic asphalt surface. These bridges includes Byculla ROB, Belasis ROB, Princess Street bridge, Mahalaxmi station bridges, Prabhadevi station bridges, Chinchpokali bridge, GTB Nagar bridges. The work will be completed in nine months. The proposal will be tabled in Standing Committee for approval on Tuesday.