'Indonesia quake caused Lalbaug flyover crack'

Apr 14, 2012, 04:07 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

This is the bizarre explanation offered by MMRDA for the chunks of concrete that fell off the 10-month-old flyover at Parel on Thursday.

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is used to describe how a small change at one place can result in large differences to a later state. The name of the effect is derived from the example of a hurricane’s formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks before. The MMRDA seems to be firm believers in this theory.

Split wide open: A large chunk of concrete fell from between the two girders of the flyover and onto Dr BR Ambedkar road below, bringing traffic to a standstill for an hour on Thursday night. Pic/Sameer Markande

Soon after Thursday night saw lumps of concrete from the not-even-year-old Lalbaug flyover collapse on to the Lalbaugcha Raja junction below, senior officials of MMRDA were ready with excuses. And bizarre ones at that. Claiming the flyover was safe to use, MMRDA chief of transport and communication department P R K Murthy said the earthquake in Indonesia on Wednesday measuring 8.5 on the Richter scale and its aftershocks, one of which was of 8.2 magnitude, sent tremors across the region that reached the city, and this might have caused the problem.

Lumpen effect: The concrete from the expansion joint of the flyover at Lalbaugcha Raja junction collapsed on Thursday night. PIC/Sameer Markande

“On Thursday night the concrete from the expansion joint of the flyover at Lalbaugcha Raja junction collapsed and prima facie it appears that this might have happened because of the earthquake tremors that were felt in Mumbai,” Murthy said. “Even so, I would like to make it clear that the structure of the bridge is completely safe and there is no need to worry.” The flyover was constructed by Simplex Infrastructures Ltd. An MMRDA official said such a thing should not have happened as Simplex is an ISO-certified company.

Not the first time
Earlier, during the construction of the Lalbaug flyover, a slab portion had collapsed at the worksite, damaging vehicles passing under the flyover. “Simplex Infrastructures is an ISO-certified company. When such incidents take place at projects constructed by reputable companies, then it is a reason to worry,” said an MMRDA official on the condition of anonymity.

The contractor had also been involved in two mishaps at Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro sites and was made to pay a penalty for it by MMRDA, all of which was brought to light in a report in this newspaper (‘Not the first time for errant firm’, November 4, 2010). A team of MMRDA engineers inspected the flyover yesterday and concluded that though a foot-long piece of the lower portion of concrete fin — a non-structural component — fell off from under the northbound lane, there was no effect on the structural integrity of the flyover and that it was safe for traffic.

MMRDA Joint Project Director Dilip Kawatkar said more investigations on the safety aspect were under way. “We have asked the design consultants and the project management consultants to investigate, attend to the problem and submit a report,” said Kawatkar. “The third party quality auditors, Messrs Shirish Patel and Associates, have also been asked to submit a report on the structural stability of the flyover and to suggest remedial measures to avoid recurrence of such an incident.”A statement by Simplex Infrastructures Ltd said the company adheres to the highest level of quality and safety norms at all construction sites. “We are internally investigating the details of the minor incident, which we will pass on to the MMRDA, for their investigation and further use,” the statement said. 

June 6 2011
The day the flyover was inaugurated

4,000 km
Approximate distance between Mumbai and the epicentre of the earthquake in Indonesia

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