Dr Ravindra Diddee is thankful he was in an SUV when a metal panel from the Bandra skywalk crashed onto his car; vehicle's windsreen, roof sustain damage, BMC passes buck to contractor
Dr Ravindra Diddee will always remember October 1 as the day the sky fell on him. Driving down SV Road, the same route the dentist had been using to get to Mahim for the past 46 years, he never suspected what would happen next — as soon as he passed under the Bandra West skywalk around 5.30 pm, a portion of the underside of the bridge gave way, and a massive metal panel — measuring 8X3 ft — crashed onto his car.
Such was the impact of the crash that it smashed the SUV’s windscreen and side-view mirror, and dented the car roof. Despite this, Dr Ravindra Diddee, (70), counts himself as a lucky man, as the incident could have been much worse.
“We often hear people saying that in today’s world there’s no guarantee that a man leaving his home to earn his daily bread, will definitely return home safe and sound, or, at all. I experienced the truth of this last week, while I was on my way to work. But I consider myself fortunate — had I been in some other vehicle, I could have been injured seriously,” said Diddee, who was driving a Mahindra Xuv.
Dr Ravindra Diddee (70) says it will cost him Rs 1 lakh to repair the damage to the windscreen, roof and side-view mirror of his car caused by the metal panel crash
Rs 1-lakh blow
While the incident did not injure him, the doctor is bound to feel the pinch — Diddee had purchased the SUV in 2012 for Rs 12 lakh. The day after the accident, he took the car to the service centre in Thane, where he was told it would cost him Rs 1 lakh to repair the damage.
When the metal panel from the skywalk crashed onto Dr Diddee’s SUV, it smashed the windscreen and side-view mirror, and dented the car roof. Bottles hidden within the panel also scratched the surface of the car. It will now cost him Rs 1 lakh to repair these damages
According to him, the damage was worse because of liquor bottles, probably discarded by addicts who loiter on the skywalk, which had also fallen with the panel. “The broken bottles left lots of dents and scratches all over the car,” he said.
‘Could’ve been worse’
“Sitting inside, I had the presence of mind to shut my eyes and turn the car to the left and halt. Had I not done that, I would have been blinded by the small shards and other cars could have crashed into mine. If the same sheet had fallen on a biker or pedestrian, however, the situation could have been much worse,” Diddee pointed out, while adding, “I think the authorities responsible for maintaining the skywalk should take a serious note of this. They should regularly inspect the panels fitted below the skywalk in order to prevent such incidents.”
Since the accident, the doctor has been trying to get in touch with the authorities and local representatives, but all his attempts have been futile. When he approached the BMC ward office, he was told the maintenance of the skywalk is the responsibility of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), which had constructed it.
Dr Ravindra Diddee is thankful he was protected inside his SUV and that he had the presence of mind to close his eyes as the panel shattered his windscreen
The MMRDA had spent over Rs 700 crore to construct 36 skywalks across Mumbai and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), hoping that they would not only provide safe passage for pedestrians, but would also provide them with robust revenue from all the ad space. Once the skywalks were thrown open, however, there were very few takers.
With advertising revenue barely trickling in, the MMRDA began to find it hard to maintain the bridges. This paper has, in the past, highlighted how the skywalks were not being maintained properly, and how they had become the haunts of drug addicts and beggars. Some of the skywalks don’t even have adequate lighting, which is why women don’t feel secure using them.
In 2012, the development authority wrote to the BMC, asking that it take over maintenance of the skywalks. Perceiving it as attempt to fob off a white elephant to the civic body, Shiv Sena corporators had opposed the
suggestion. However, in 2013, the BMC agreed to take charge.
But when mid-day called BMC Chief Engineer SO Kori, he said, “It is true that the skywalks have been handed over to us by MMRDA, but it is the contractor’s job to maintain the skywalk, as it is in the defect liability period. I have not received any complaint regarding the panel falling from the Bandra west skywalk, so I cannot comment on the same. All I can say is that we are in process of preparing a plan for the maintenance of skywalks.”
Complaint to cops
Dr Diddee said he went to the Bandra police station around 8 pm the same day, and had submitted a complaint letter about the incident. “I submitted the letter to the Bandra police station, informing them about the incident and got an acknowledgement from them,” he told mid-day.
V Hiremath, senior police inspector at the Bandra Traffic Division said, “On Thursday a panel from the Bandra West skywalk had fallen on a vehicle passing below, but fortunately, no one was injured. Whenever we see that a panel has become loose or that there are chances of it falling, we immediately inform the concerned authorities and remove it. Our topmost priority is the safety of motorists and pedestrians who use the road.”
Panel was loosened?
According to Bandra Fire Station Officer P A Sawant, the panel may have been loosened by drug addicts intending to sell it as scrap.
“Soon after the incident our officials reached the spot and brought the panel to our fire station. In the past, I have informed the authorities about instances when the panels were going to fall and those panels had been removed.
There are chances that drug addicts sitting on the skywalk might be trying to remove the panels so they can sell them in the scrap market,” Sawant said.
Rs 700 crore
Amount MMRDA spent on building 36 city skywalks
Monthly maintenance amount for every skywalk