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Did Mumbai bridge collapse under the weight of 60 utility cables? Probe begins

Probe to check who gave permission to lay cables below paver block and if it weakened the structure

mumbai Updated: Jul 05, 2018 14:29 IST
Sanjana Bhalerao
Sanjana Bhalerao
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,utility cables,Andheri bridge collapse
WR employees removed debris.(Satyabrata Tripathy/HT Photo)

A day after the Gokhale road overbridge in Andheri collapsed on Tuesday, it has been found that at least 60 utility cables ran below the paver blocks of the 3-m-wide bridge. Did the pressure weaken the bridge, leading to its collapse? The joint probe by the commissioner of railway safety (CRS), Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and railway officials will look to answer this question.

The 70-m-long Gokhale bridge, which was built in 1975, acted as a connector between Andheri East and West. Around 7.30am, a 3-m-wide slab from the pedestrians’ exit of the bridge gave away, leaving five people injured. A major disaster was, however, averted as a Churchgate-bound train leaving Andheri station was stopped metres ahead of the spot.

While a team of BMC and railway officials conducted a joint inspection of the site on Wednesday, both of them claimed they didn’t give permission for the utilities passing through the bridge. An official present with the team said, “Both the aspects – the permission and pressure –will be examined.”

The probe team has to submit a report within 15 days. “We need to check if the bridge was designed to carry utility cables. If not, the utility cables may have surely put pressure on the walkway. Before giving the permission, the design should have been considered. Initial inspection shows the bridge was old. It is possible that the load-bearing beams may have rusted, weakening the structure,” a civic engineer told HT on condition of anonymity, as the investigation is underway.

The bridge which is closed for both pedestrian (the other exit) and vehicular traffic is unlikely to be opened soon. “We will not open the bridge, until a thorough investigation convinces us that the structure is safe for use,” said a WR official on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, BMC, which has been planning to repair the bridge for two years, may invite tenders for the work. A routine inspection conducted two years ago concluded the girders (large iron beams) needed strengthening.

First Published: Jul 05, 2018 00:48 IST