Corrosion, beautification, audit firm now blamed for CSMT bridge collapse
Reasons were listed in Azad Maidan police's supplementary charge sheet filed on Thursday, without BMC's much-awaited nod
Close to three months after the bridge collapse at CSMT, the police have arrived at three theories about the cause of the mishap. While a report by the Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI) has said heavy corrosion caused the collapse, the D D Desai firm has blamed it on the extra load on the bridge brought on by BMC's beautification work and the chief engineer of BMC accused D D Desai for it.
The reasons were listed in the Azad Maidan police's supplementary charge sheet that was filed on Thursday, without BMC's much-awaited nod. It was filed against three accused, including two BMC officials — assistant engineer S F Kakulte, executive engineer A R Patil and retired additional chief engineer of the bridges department S Kori. The first charge sheet blamed the collapse on the lack of a bridge audit.
The supplementary charge sheet carries the VJTI report blaming the collapse on heavy corrosion. The report states, "There was heavy corrosion on the crossbeams of the bridge; the thickness of the steel of the base of the bridge also reduced to a great extent because of this corrosion. The structural auditor should have looked into this corrosion." Apart from the VJTI report, Azad Maidan police recorded the statements of two assistant engineers of A ward, who are now witnesses in the case.
One of them said they had written to the executive engineer of the bridges department, A R Patil, who is also an accused, on November 3, 2016 asking him about the stability of the bridge. The letter was sent as BMC was planning on beautifying the bridge under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan. Following that, former BMC chief Ajoy Mehta visited the bridge on October 25 and gave instructions for its beautification.
As per the charge sheet, Patil was supposed to respond to the letter, which he didn't do. A ward then went ahead with the beautification without a stability report. Accused structural auditor Neeraj Desai, who is also the director of the D D Desai firm also claimed that the beautification added to the dead load on the bridge, which resulted in the collapse.
Meanwhile, chief engineer of BMC, Sanjay Darade, said in his statement that the base of the bridge was not audited by D D Desai, which is why the collapse occurred. He also said there was a communication gap between BMC officials and the firm.
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