The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to demolish and reconstruct the Dharavi bridge, two months after a part of it caved in.
The decision was taken based on the recommendations of an interim report presented by a consultant. Although the final report is still pending, the civic body has instructed the consultant to make the design for the new bridge and give an estimate.
There are, however, doubts over the civic body's swiftness in acting on this report, even as a similar report in 2007, which called for immediate action on 34 bridges, has not been acted upon.
Satish Badwe, chief engineer (roads) said, "After the interim report was submitted, we have decided that the bridge's life cannot be prolonged by any other means. This is the only solution."
The bridge, built in 1991, was constructed by the public works department (PWD) and was later handed over to the civic body for maintenance purposes in 1993. The bridge serves as a crucial link between the eastern and western suburbs, connecting the areas of Sion, Matunga and Bandra-Kurla Complex with Mahim, through Dharavi.
A civic official from the roads department, meanwhile, said the work would be completed in two phases. "The bridge is a crucial connecting link and hence, it is impossible to demolish it completely in one go. In the first phase, the northbound arm of the bridge, where the damaged portion lies, will be demolished. Traffic will then be allowed on the southbound arm, till the former is constructed. Once this done, the southbound arm will be demolished and reconstructed."
Although civic officials insist that work on this bridge will be fast, the BMC's history of dealing with dilapidated bridges suggests otherwise. Instead of acting on the standing technical advisory committee's 2007 report, it appointed consultants to study the recommendations and accordingly, submit a report on its findings. Though the consultants have submitted their reports, the civic body has suggested some more tests on the bridges.
"Based on their findings, we have now instructed the consultants to conduct some fresh tests to check specific aspects of the bridges. Accordingly, remedial action will be taken," said a civic official, on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.