Plan to build foot over bridges in Mumbai scrapped?

Reasons for the cancellation range from residents' opposition to the BMC's lack of vision and planning

After two years, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) plan to construct 15 foot over bridges (FOBs) throughout the city is close to cancellation, as the contractor faced stiff opposition from various quarters, including residents. Sources also blamed the civic body’s lack of foresight, as the project was planned even before a proper study could be conducted.

The project was to cost Rs 25.63 crore on a Design, Build, Operate and Transfer (DBOT) basis. As per this arrangement, the contractor was to build the FOBs with their own money and, in return, the BMC was to grant them advertising rights for the same for 15 years. By the end of the tenure, the bridges were to be handed over to the civic body.

In 2012, the BMC was awarded the tender to construct FOBs. However, the project didn’t take off in a big way as construction work on only one bridge began in earnest at Worli. “This plan was decided without a study and a plan. Sites for these FOBs were chosen on the basis of local corporators’ demand letters, traffic police’s suggestions and local citizens’ demands. Even site visits were not conducted to check whether the project is viable,” said a senior official from the BMC’s Bridge Department.

“As the project was planned without a study, we find it difficult to give clear sites to the contractor and because of this, the contractor is facing financial losses. We are thinking of scrapping the whole project,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner, SVR Srinivas. Although work on Worli bridge’s pillars was completed, residents opposed the project and brought it to a halt. “Construction work on the FOB near the National Association of Blind (NAB) office at Khan Abdul Gaffar Road is yet to begin as the NAB is opposed to it. In Mankhurd, because of the Metro rail, the contractor couldn’t get permission for the work. Near Mahim railway station, we didn’t get a clearance for the project,” said another official from the Bridge Department. Sources said that authorities may wait for a month or two before officially scrapping the project. “The contractor is asking for clear sites to begin work on all 15 FOBs. But because of various hurdles, this does not seem to be possible now,” said Chief Engineer (Bridge), SA Kori.

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