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Worli blind school unhappy with bridge

Happy Home and School for the Blind has filed a writ petition against the construction of a foot-over-bridge outside their building, saying it is unnecessary and hampers the daily routine of their 185 wards

The construction of a new foot-over-bridge (FOB) in Worli is being challenged by the management of the Happy Home and School for the Blind in Worli. The officials of the school for the visually impaired have taken the BMC to court over the new foot over bridge being built outside their premises, when they filed a write petition in the High Court on Monday against the project.

Management of the Happy Home and School for the Blind says the FOB is not required and will cause problems for their children to cross
Management of the Happy Home and School for the Blind says the FOB is not required and will cause problems for their children to cross

According to the school authorities, the FOB will hinder the movement of the 185 visually impaired children that attend the school and cause them problems while walking. The school says the ongoing work has already disturbed their wards, due to the noise. They also claimed that there was no need for a bridge at the spot, since the road is barely 60 feet wide and there are openings for crossing at regular intervals. The institute is of the opinion that the bridge would eat up space on the footpath, making it difficult for people to walk on the footpath, and forcing them to walk on the road instead.

School management says the construction work on the FOB is also disturbing their children with the noise and will cause problems to pedestrians by eating away space on the footpath. Pic/Bipin Kokate
School management says the construction work on the FOB is also disturbing their children with the noise and will cause problems to pedestrians by eating away space on the footpath. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Work on the FOB started last month. Meher Banaji, the director of the school, said, “There are a lot of issues that can be a cause of problem for us. Firstly, there is no need of any FOB to be built in this area. The BMC hasn’t put up FOBs in areas where there’s actually a requirement. There are about 10 to 15 students who have difficulty in walking to our campus. We have taught them to walk and they are now familiar with the surface. But with the FOB coming up, there are going to be more problems. On top of that, the BMC tells us they will remove the signal installed outside our school.”

Banaji added that the management had already met the engineers of the Bridge department and the municipal commissioner himself, to explain the adversity the children would face in climbing the FOB. “But they turned a deaf ear to our requests. Not only this, the FOB will also reduce space available on the footpath and cause pedestrians a problem. The BMC has hacked away at trees, too, for this structure,” added an agitated Banaji.

The FOB is a part of the BMC’s plan to introduce 15 new FOBs to the city. These have been pending for the last two years, delayed due to several reasons. The contractor for these bridges had been blacklisted by the BMC in 2009-10 for shoddy work in constructing a school. After collecting a fine of Rs 5 lakh, he was later awarded the job to design, build, operate and transfer the 15 FOBs.

The other side
BMC administration maintains the FOB is being constructed as per the demands from various locals in the area. S O Kori, chief engineer of Bridges department, told this newspaper, “As the matter is subjudice, I can’t comment on it. But, the Worli site was among the 15 FOBs that were proposed three years back and the FOBs are usually constructed on public demand and also seeing the traffic flow in a particular area.”

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