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Sunday, Nov 17, 2019

Mumbai bridge collapse: Auditor says his firm pointed out that FOB was weak

The police have arrested four people, including 46-year-old Desai and BMC engineers.

mumbai Updated: May 14, 2019 01:10 IST
Charul Shah
Charul Shah
Hindustan Times
The FOB collapsed on March 14, killing seven people.
The FOB collapsed on March 14, killing seven people. (HT File )

Structural auditor Neerajkumar Desai on Monday approached the sessions court for bail, claiming that his firm in 2016 pointed out that the CSMT foot overbridge (FoB), which collapsed on March 14, killing seven people, was structurally weak. He also alleged that repairs carried out by the civic body were the ultimate cause of damage.

Last week, Azad Maidan police submitted its first charge sheet. The police have arrested four people, including 46-year-old Desai and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) engineers.

The prosecution had questioned the audit done by Desai’s firm and said they did not conduct some important tests, including steel non-destructive testing (NDT) to check the strength of the bridge.

Desai has claimed that after the first audit in 2016, his firm had pointed out cracks in the parapets, railings along with broken stair treads and risers, to the BMC.

He said he had pointed out that the slabs were not in good condition.

“It is noteworthy to mention that steel NDT tests were not specified in the tender document published by BMC. This is seen from the fact that only concrete NDT tests and/or rates have been mentioned in the tender. The applicant’s company deemed NDT of the steel structure essential and suggested the same to BMC via an audit report dated October 26, 2016, (sic)” read the bail plea filed by Desai.

Desai said based on their recommendations, the BMC had issued tenders for concrete NDT tests and a firm, Geo Dynamics, was appointed to carry out those tests.

Further, the tests on the bridge were conducted in July 2017.

Before the tests were done, Desai said the ward officer on the instruction of the then civic chief carried out work for refurbishment and repainting of the bridge between November 2016 and March 2017.

“Approximately 14 tonnes of rough granite stone slabs of size 25-30 mm were laid on the deck of the FOB without any stability test carried out by the BMC, to test and verify whether the 36-year-old FOB having been exposed to withering, heavy monsoons, climate changes, exponential increase in footfall, etc, was sound and strong enough to take the weight of rough granite slabs,” Desai said in his bail plea, blaming the alleged repair to be the ultimate cause of damage to the bridge. Desai said the prosecution and the BMC have been suppressing facts related to the said repairs.

Desai further accused the prosecution of not taking samples to know the cause of the collapse of the bridge. ‘Neither his company, BMC, nor the investigating agency is aware of a debris sample and the sample of balance and remaining portion being taken to ascertain the cause of the reason of the FOB collapse,’ Desai alleged in his bail plea.