Mumbai: Shiv Sena's 'poll promise' might get stuck in limbo

Experts warn of dangers against MLA and MoS (Housing) Ravindra Waikar’s proposal of widening an underpass on the WEH in Andheri (East)

A promise made to the residents of Andheri (East) — keeping in mind the upcoming 2017 civic elections — could end up becoming a boo-boo for Shiv Sena.

The existing underpass below the Andheri flyover at Pump House. Pic/Tehniyat Fatima
The existing underpass below the Andheri flyover at Pump House. Pic/Tehniyat Fatima

With experts expressing concerns over the widening of the existing underpass below the Andheri flyover at Pump House — claiming it would affect the stability of that particular stretch of the flyover — the future of the project appears to be in limbo.

The R28-crore project was pitched by Shiv Sena MLA and MoS (Housing) Ravindra Waikar. On his request, Sena president Uddhav Thackeray even performed a bhoomipujan at the site on January 18. The widening, once complete, is expected to ease traffic woes.

If sources are to be believed, then the consultants working on the project’s feasibility have demanded clarity on how the widening will not affect the flyover’s stability. Sources added that finding a solution to the issue could delay the project further, thus affecting its 33-month proposed deadline.

NoC in the bag
To ensure minimum delays, Waikar and the PWD department have already secured a no-objection certificate (NoC) from the traffic police department for diverting traffic once widening work starts. A senior traffic police officer confirmed the issuance of the NoC to the project.

“Top officers inspected the spot and gave their nod. Our job is to manage traffic and we will do our best to prevent motorists from being inconvenienced when the work begins,” said an officer, adding that their brief was not to deal with any technical matter related to the project.

No backing down
Waikar, who has been following up the matter for the past five years, told mid-day that new consultants will be hired if the existing ones fail to provide solutions to execute the project safely.

“I’ve been slogging to ensure that the underpass is widened. I even met the traffic police to secure their NoC. Now, all we have to take care is that work is executed in such a manner that it doesn’t affect the traffic above,” he added.

Waikar said the contractor, Prime Infrastructure, is working on methods to incorporate innovative ways to get the work done within the stipulated period. “Modern techniques such as microtunnelling or Korean method could be used for the purpose,” he said.

A senior PWD officer said that all possible steps are being taken to ensure that the project commences at the earliest.

The options
Experts have proposed that instead of widening the existing underpass, two more underpasses measuring 10 metres wide can be constructed. This they claim would not compromise the stability of the flyover. Moreover, the contractor will have to submit designs for the new underpasses to PWD for approval.

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