Activists fume over cost escalation, question why bridge needed to be rebuilt
The original skywalk at Bandra was closed in 2019. File pic/Nimesh Dave
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has received bids from five contractors in response to its tender to build the skywalk outside the station in Bandra East. The civic body will take a month to issue the work order. Meanwhile, the estimated project cost has increased more than four-fold to an estimated Rs 83 crore (excluding 18 per cent GST) after the earlier contract—awarded for Rs 19 crore—was scrapped. Civic officials have attributed the cost increase to the larger dimensions of the skywalk, including its length and width, and the addition of three escalators and steel construction.
The BMC floated a tender on June 26 for the reconstruction of the skywalk. The skywalk was in the news after it was closed after the collapse of Himalaya foot overbridge at CSMT in 2019. After two structural audit reports and a Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI) report indicated the skywalk needed repairs, the BMC decided to reconstruct it as the cost of repairing the existing structure was high. The earlier contract was awarded after inviting a tender in January 2022 for a part of the skywalk from Bandra station to the court at Anant Kanekar Marg.
The cost of demolishing and rebuilding the structure was pegged at R19 crore. The skywalk was demolished, but it was never reconstructed as per the contract as a petitioner approached the High Court requesting the skywalk be extended up to the MHADA office. The BMC scrapped the earlier contract and invited fresh bids in June, with an estimated cost of R83.06 crore. The four-fold cost escalation has attracted criticism from activists. “The estimated cost is highly inflated. VJTI had only recommended repairs, so why did the BMC insist on demolishing the structure and reconstructing a new skywalk at such a high cost?” said Godfrey Pimenta of the Watchdog Foundation.
However, a BMC official justified the cost escalation saying that the length of the skywalk has been increased from the previous 483 metres to about 740 metres and the width from 4.2 metres to 6.5 metres. “Additionally, steel will be used instead of concrete for the construction of the 34 pillars. Besides, there will also be three new escalators and a canopy for shade,” the official said.
According to civic officials, the bids have been forwarded to the chartered accountant for scrutiny, after which a report will be sent to the civic commissioner for approval. The work order will be given after the approval, which will take another month. “There aren’t any changes in the tender conditions as it was made as per HC remarks. The construction cost increased as the skywalk will be built with new fabricated technology so that the construction can be completed in less time,” said another civic official.
The original skywalk
The skywalk—with one arm extending to Kalanagar and another to Bandra court via Anant Kanekar Marg (station road)—was built in 2008 by the MMRDA, which subsequently handed it over to the BMC. As the cost of repair was estimated at Rs 7 crore, BMC officials decided to go for reconstruction which was estimated at R16 crore for the part on station road to Anant Kanekar Marg. The tender was issued in January 2022 and demolition work commenced in October 2022. Meanwhile, a petition was filed in the HC requesting an extension of the skywalk to the MHADA office, like the original skywalk. As a result, the BMC decided to conduct a feasibility study on the extension and subsequently, a fresh tender was issued.
Rs 19 cr
Cost to reconstruct skywalk earlier