BMC officials say work on the civic amenity will be complete within a week or two
Thousands of railway commuters have been forced to use the staircase
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) lacklustre approach is causing inconvenience to hundreds of commuters using the Himalaya Bridge at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT). While the work on an escalator to access the bridge has finally started, it was held up for months only because the civic body failed to release Rs 1.29 crore to the contractor. Citizens feel that the BMC could have easily started the work earlier as the funds released were not a big amount for the civic body.
Thousands of railway commuters have been forced to use the staircase of the Himalaya foot overbridge (FOB) as the BMC failed to get the pending escalator installed even eight months after the bridge was opened. The delay was not due to technical reasons but came only due to the failure to clear the additional cost of the escalator, which was added to the plan after issuing work orders for the bridge. “It should hardly be a week’s job now to attach an escalator as it doesn’t require any additional construction,” said a BMC official.
Sandip Kadam, a regular commuter said, “The collapse of the bridge already caused a lot of trauma and the delay in reconstruction is another story. The BMC gives several excuses from encroachments to technical glitches for delaying projects. But if the escalator wasn’t attached just because of non-payment, then it is a serious matter. Many elderly, sick, disabled and pregnant women have been suffering just due to the delay in payment.”
Another commuter, Rama Almeida said that the BMC chopped a tree on the road before the monsoon to make way for the escalator. “Now as the escalator has arrived, we expect that it will be attached soon and not lie there in dust for the next few months,” Almeida said.
The Himalaya FOB collapsed on the night of March 14, 2019, claiming seven lives and injuring more than 30. The FOB was reconstructed and opened on March 30, 2023, after much delay. The bridge has two openings, one for the staircase and another for attaching the escalator. Though the BMC ordered the contractor to attach the escalator, the payment for the same was sanctioned only a few days ago.
The BMC had issued a work order in 2021 at the cost of R5.75 crore without the provision of an escalator. Later on, the addition of escalators raised the cost. Even the width of the bridge was increased from 4.5 metres to 6 metres, which is a 40 per cent increase in area. The proposal for the R1.29 crore an additional cost, which works out to 20 per cent more, took months to clear. The proposal required the sanction of the chartered accountant, the legal department and the standing committee before the final approval of senior officials.
When the bridge was opened in March, engineers from the BMC’s bridges department had said that the escalator would be installed after the monsoon. The escalator was ready. The contractor invested money but as the proposal wasn’t sanctioned, the escalator work remained incomplete.
Rs 1.29 cr
Additional cost that BMC didn’t clear for months