Railways, BMC to rope in IIT-B; structural audit of city’s oldest bridges a priority
The Railways, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), and Indian Institute of Technology Bombay will jointly conduct a structural audit of 445 bridges passing over rail tracks from Friday.
Twelve teams, each with at least one representative each from the three organisations, will be formed to inspect the bridges. The move follows Union Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal’s announcement on Tuesday after the Gokhale Bridge collapse in Andheri.
In a joint meeting on Thursday, D.K. Sharma, General Manager, Central Railway; A.K. Gupta, General Manager, Western Railway; and Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta decided to complete the inspections in around four months.
The teams will inspect the oldest bridges, such as Tilak Bridge in Dadar and Elphinstone Bridge, on a priority basis. The agencies will also meet every month to coordinate their efforts and discuss the status of the inspection. Ravinder Bhakar, Chief Public Relations Officer, WR, said, “Pending issues regarding design, drawings, approvals and land will be taken up during these meetings.”
Mr. Bhakar said the agencies were also thinking of creating a corpus fund to ensure sufficient finances are always available for urgent repairs. Restoration work on the bridges already identified by the Railways or the BMC will be taken up on a priority basis.
Railway officials said the team will test the road and footpath, the health of the frame and pillars of the bridge, the soil on which it is standing, and any design flaws it might have. If any bridge is found to be weak, the traffic police will be asked to close it, and train services will also be halted for a closer inspection.
After the bridge collapse in Andheri on Tuesday, the Railways and BMC have been shifting the blame on each other. The Bombay High Court on Wednesday criticised the BMC for not taking responsibility. Senior railway officials said the decision on opening Gokhale Bridge to traffic will be taken after a joint inspection.
CRS starts inquiry
The Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) began taking statements from the public for his inquiry into the bridge collapse. The CRS has been tasked to submit his report by July 18. Parts of the collapsed section were brought to the WR Mumbai Division office in Mumbai Central on Thursday.