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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019

Supplementary charge sheet filed; report from VJTI says steel plates were corroded

The collapse near Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) on March 14 left seven people dead. Patil and Kakulte were responsible for periodic inspection of the bridge twice a year and evaluating its structural condition, specifically before and after the monsoon.

mumbai Updated: May 31, 2019 02:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Mumbai
The Azad Maidan police on Thursday filed a supplementary charge sheet in the Himalaya bridge collapse, blaming three Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) engineers
The Azad Maidan police on Thursday filed a supplementary charge sheet in the Himalaya bridge collapse, blaming three Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) engineers (Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)
         

The Azad Maidan police on Thursday filed a supplementary charge sheet in the Himalaya bridge collapse, blaming three Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) engineers – Anil Patil, executive engineer; SF Kakulte, assistant engineer and Shitalaprasad Kori, retired BMC and former chief engineer – for negligence. The charge sheet includes a report from VJTI and statements of an assistant engineer and seven witnesses.

The collapse near Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) on March 14 left seven people dead. Patil and Kakulte were responsible for periodic inspection of the bridge twice a year and evaluating its structural condition, specifically before and after the monsoon. As the head of the department, Kori had to oversee the work. According to the charge sheet, there is evidence to show the inspection was not done.

The VJTI report submitted by the head of the structural engineering department, Dr SS Pendhari, stated the steel recovered from the bridge had lost its ductility (with a high percentage elongation), which is why the structure became brittle. It also stated that a steel plate (length 384mm, width 32mm and thickness 10mm) had corroded beyond permissible limits. The corrosion led to variation in thickness – a minimum 2.8mm to a maximum 10mm – reducing the cross-section and thus the load-carrying capacity. “Such significant reduction in load carrying capacity may have led to loss of structural integrity,” stated the report.

The supplementary charge sheet contains the statement of Sachin Kakade, assistant engineer, examinations, A ward. The officer said the ward office undertook beautification of the bridge from December 23, 2016 to January 1, 2017.

Kakade, in his statement, said that before commencing repairs and beautification, the ward office had written to the executive engineer of the bridges department on November 3, 2016 for structural examination of the bridge. However, the officer said that he did not find any record showing reply from the bridge department.

Prior to this, the police on May 9 filed the charge sheet, mainly against structural auditor Neeraj Desai. The police had stated that the auditors are required to follow guidelines set in the manual of Indian Road Congress (IRC), an apex body set up for roads in the country. However, Desai’s firm did not follow the rules while auditing the bridge, it said.

BMC REACTS 

Even as the police filed a supplementary charge sheet, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation on Thursday said it has not sanctioned prosecution, as it is yet to seek legal opinion.

Praveen Pardeshi, municipal commissioner, BMC, said, “We have not given sanction, as we are yet to take legal opinion on the matter. However, I have spoken with the Mumbai Police and told them that they can go ahead [with action], if they deem it fit.”

Civic officials are seeking legal opinion to check if a criminal negligence case can be filed against engineers or mere departmental inquiry should be carried out.

Earlier, several BMC engineers went on strike to protest the criminal action being taken against engineers.

After Pardeshi took charge around two weeks ago, he promised the engineers that there would be no injustice.