Mumbai: Demolished 4 yrs ago, Hancock Bridge still awaits CR approval

Updated: Nov 06, 2019, 08:00 IST | Prajakta Kasale | Mumbai

BMC accuses Railways of delaying long-awaited project by making demands of compensation

The debris from the demolition of the bridge
The debris from the demolition of the bridge

Torn down around four years ago, the vital Hancock Bridge, between Mazgaon and Sandhurst Road, still does not have a definitive deadline for reconstruction. The project hangs in the balance as the civic officials accuse the Central Railway (CR) of delaying the progress.

A civic official said that close to 50 per cent of the girders have arrived on the site and a part of the bridge could be opened within a month, but the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation is yet to receive a go-ahead from the CR.

Built-in 1879, the bridge was declared unsafe by the CR in 2015 and was subsequently demolished in January 2016. However, the restoration project has been delayed over unending reasons.

First, the BMC-appointed contractor was blacklisted in a road scam, and then the issue of rehabilitation of the slum dwellers in the area caused hurdles in the project's progress. It was only by March 9 this year that the shanties in and B and E wards were finally demolished, paving the way for the reconstruction of the bridge.

However, the project has still not started, thanks to pending permission from the CR. "We had already taken general approval for the design and layout of the bridge. But the Central Railway has now asked for a compensation of Rs 11 crore to remove the overhead wire. We are ready to pay it, but the process to seek approval from respective sections in the BMC will take a lot of time. The CR has also demanded Rs 28 crore for coal and 10-year maintenance charges," said a BMC officer.
Had the CR informed us about the compensation, in the beginning, the delay would not have happened, the official added.

SandhusrtThe girders on the site

The official said after the payment clearance from the BMC, there is likely to be a delay of another six months on the part of the CR.

"The CR is delaying the project since the beginning. They had initially Okayed removing the shanties on their land, but they refused later. Why don't they just cooperate and help build the structure?" asked Kamlakar Shenoy, an activist who filed has filed a PIL in the Bombay High Court.

Several commuters risk their lives by crossing the tracks in the absence of the bridge, said Shenoy.

Central Railway chief PRO Shivaji Sutar said he will be able to comment after getting more details on the issue.

Carnac bridge's fate in limbo too

The fate of Carnac Bunder Bridge, which is in a dilapidated condition, too, is in limbo due to the delay in the reconstruction of Hancock Bridge. The Carnac Bridge at Masjid Bunder station was to be demolished and rebuilt after the Carnac project was completed. With the uncertain delay, the public continues to put their lives at risk by using the 151-year-old bridge.

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