Days after the authorities brought the riot police down on Vasai just to keep locals off the east-west bridge, the local police have now brought charges of ‘unlawful assembly’ on 15 people for throwing the bridge open last week. No arrests have been made, but locals have taken strong objection to the FIR, saying that the police should instead charge the officials who delayed the construction and inauguration of the flyover for so long, which eventually pushed the public to take matters into their own hands on Wednesday.

MMRDA ostensibly put labourers to work installing view-cutters along the Vasai flyover yesterday, a day after mid-day pointed out that there were no signs of work being carried out there. Pics/Hanif Patel
MMRDA ostensibly put labourers to work installing view-cutters along the Vasai flyover yesterday, a day after mid-day pointed out that there were no signs of work being carried out there. Pics/Hanif Patel

Already delayed by five years, the bridge had been ready for a month but the authorities had delayed inaugurating it. On June 15, frustrated locals decided that they had had enough of traffic jams and decided to open it themselves. But hours later, the MMRDA closed the bridge and the very next day, the SRPF was deployed to keep people away.

In this aerial view, on the left is the new Vasai east-west bridge, which is yet to be opened to the public. On the right is the 50-year-old bridge that often witnesses traffic jams for hours together
In this aerial view, on the left is the new Vasai east-west bridge, which is yet to be opened to the public. On the right is the 50-year-old bridge that often witnesses traffic jams for hours together

Yesterday, the Manikpur police filed an FIR against 10-15 unknown persons for unlawful assembly. Palghar district police PRO, PSI Ranjeet Shirshat said, “We have registered a case against unknown people under Sections 143 and 149 (unlawful assembly) of the IPC. A constable from the local police is the complainant in the case. We are investigating the matter and no arrest has been made.”

This move also drew heavy flak from politicians, who continue to allege that the MMRDA is merely using stalling tactics since it wants to wait for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to inaugurate the flyover (see Political Reactions).

Residents were also under the impression that the inauguration had been held so the CM could do the honours. Newspaper reports had stated that he would cut the ribbon on June 15, but when that didn’t happen either.

'CM wasn’t in picture'
However, a senior CMO official told mid-day that the CM had never given a date to the MRRDA for the inauguration but instead asked the officials to have it opened as early as possible by local public representatives. “We said this to the MMRDA very specifically. The CM was never in the picture in this entire episode,” he said.

Additional metropolitan commissioner Pravin Darade confirmed to this paper that the CM had asked MMRDA to dedicate the flyover to people in the presence of local public representatives. He, however, did not comment on the FIRs that have been filed against the persons who opened the bridge last week. He said that the contractor has been asked to give finishing touches to the flyover in two days (See ‘Work in progress’).

“We will throw the bridge open to traffic immediately after this work is completed. We will invite local MPs and legislators and civic representatives,” he said.

— Inputs by Dharmendra Jore