Mumbai: Century-old rail over bridges await demolition

The Central Railways and BMC lock horns over demolishing Carnac Bunder and Hancock Bridge, thereby delaying the process. They are also at loggerheads over footing the bill 

The fate of two of the oldest Railway Overbridges (ROBs) of Mumbai — Carnac Bunder, built almost 145 years ago, and Hancock, which is more than 135 years old, hangs in the middle with both Central Railway (CR) and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) laying claims to demolishing them. Once the bridges are demolished, the civic body will have to rebuild them. The demolition, which was to take place before the monsoons this year, is already delayed.

CR claims
The Carnac Bunder, which links P D’Mello Road and Carnac Bunder, and Hancock Bridge in Mazgaon, have been closed for heavy vehicles for the past few weeks, as they can’t take the load. “The bridges are very old. They look strong, but they might have grown weak internally,” said a CR official on condition of anonymity.

While the civic body wants to demolish both the ROBs and rebuild new ones; the CR authorities are not keen on allowing BMC to intrude on their property and demolish them.

Sources say that the reason the CR authorities don’t want any other agency to carry out the demolition process, is because they want to ensure that the train traffic below does not get disturbed. “We have asked for around
R4 crore to carry out the demolition,” said M Gupta, CAO (Construction).

Once they get the money, the Railway authorities will carry out the demolition work of these stone bridges, which is likely to take at least a fortnight. Sources said that they will preserve part of the bridges for their heritage value, as their plaques and the stones used to build them are still strong.

Changes galore
On the other hand, the BMC officials also want to demolish and rebuild the bridges. “The CR authorities have submitted us the changes that need to be incorporated in constructing the new bridges,” said S Kori, chief engineer (Bridges), BMC.

The cost to rebuild portions of the bridges has been estimated at R30 crore. The new bridges will be 15 metre longer in length to accommodate the fifth and sixth lines and 3.5 metres in height from tracks for the power upgradation from 1,500-volt DC to 2,5000-volt AC.

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