The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has begun its structural audit of the century-old rail over bridge at Mahalaxmi station, to check whether illegal alterations done by the shop and godown owners below it could affect its stability.
It has also issued notices to tenants who have shops and godowns under the bridge to find out what modifications have been made to the original structures that could damage the bridge.
The century-old bridge is one of the main connectivity links in south central Mumbai. It witnesses heavy traffic to and from Worli, Saat Rasta and Haji Ali. According to the records of the civic bridge department, more than 25,000 vehicles use this bridge between 8am and 8pm. During the peak hours, it takes 15-20 minutes for the motorists to cross the bridge because of heavy traffic.
During an inspection about a fortnight ago, a municipal officer, who is tasked to keep a check on illegal constructions, found major alterations to the structure below the bridge as well as illegal construction, which could pose risk to the stability of the bridge.
Two weeks ago, G-South (Worli, Prabhadevi) ward office issued notices to all the 32 VLT (vacant land tenancies) holders under the bridge given for commercial purpose. Most of them have either sold these spaces or rented the same.
To protect its huge chunk of open land from encroachment, the civic body has allotted lands under the VLT. According to the policy, the civic body can take back these lands anytime when they need it.
In October last year, a Yuva Sena leader from Worli, Abhijit Patil, had in a complaint to the G-south ward written about the illegal construction and alteration taking place below the bridge.
Patil said, “Last year, after the complaint, the civic body did not take any action. I wrote another letter this January. Now, the civic officials have conducted an inspection of all 32 VLT holders and found several irregularities.”
Speaking to HT, assistant municipal commissioner, G-south, Bhagyashree Kapase confirmed the notices and said, “We have sent notices to all the VLT holders and asked them to submit all the papers regarding their shops or structures. We have found that the original land holders has sublet there godowns and third party has developed shops without proper permissions. The illegal alterations made in shops may have damaged the bridge’’s structure.”