It appears the state cares little for the safety of motorists, since despite two major incidents on the Lalbaug flyover in the past 18 months, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is still to take any action against the firm that constructed it - Simplex Infrastructure Project Ltd.
At 10pm on Thursday night, a concrete block weighing around 10kg fell from under the flyover deck at the busy Lalbaug junction.
The block was part of a movement joint - an assembly designed to absorb the heat-induced expansion and contraction of the concrete and other construction materials with variance in temperature. Similar cracks were visible on three to four expansion joints of the bridge, and workers were seen repairing them to prevent another mishap.
"The block fell seconds after a bus and a bike passed over junction. Had it fallen on a two-wheeler or a car, it would have led to disastrous consequences," said Jayant Palde, who was standing at the junction when the incident occurred.
The MMRDA has said that it will undertake a third-party audit to find out the cause of the problem. The auditors, Shirish Patel & Associates, have also been asked to submit a report on the structural stability of the flyover and to suggest remedial measures to avoid recurrence of such an incident.
Sources claim that, prima facie, it appears that the quality of concrete used and poor workmanship may have caused the incident. "It is a serious issue and we are going to appoint a noted structural engineer to find out whether the quality of concrete used was as per requisite standards," metropolitan commissioner Rahul Asthana said.
However, the MMRDA has a poor record of cracking the whip on errant contractors. In November 2010, the cantilever of the under-construction Lalbaug flyover collapsed. At the time, MMRDA blamed the incident on human error and no action was taken against the contractor.