Usual blame game begins over Andheri bridge collapse, rains add to Mumbaikars misery

Mumbai: On Tuesday morning, the city was shaken up by yet another horror – the news of the collapse of a foot overbridge at Andheri. The sad part was that — as had happened in the wake of the Elphinstone bridge stampede — this time too, the two main authorities, the BMC and the Western Railway, were engaged in a shameless blame game.  Each passing the buck to the other.

While the WR said the bridge belongs to the BMC, the latter said the crash took place on the railway portion which was the WR’s responsibility for repairs and maintenance. The fact is these bridges are constructed by the BMC and it pays a fee to the Railways to maintain and repair the sections that hover over the tracks. So, the bridge, which is supposed to be maintained by the BMC, is currently being taken care of by the Railways.

The intriguing aspect is, it is the bridge in the middle which has become a bone of contention between the two. Owing to their slugfest, with each refusing to take the responsibility for the bridge collapse, five people have been injured, two of them critically. The collapse damaged the overhead wires of all the six railway lines, causing trains to stop in their tracks. With the sudden closure of the bridge, commuters wanting to travel from Andheri east to west had to take recourse to the subways which were mostly waterlogged due to the heavy rain. Ravinder Bhakar, WR, CPRO, pointed out that the bridge does not fall in the Railway’s jurisdiction.


“Rather, it is under the jurisdiction of the BMC, but the civic body has refused to accept responsibility saying that the bridge is a rail- way property,” explained Bhakar. When asked about the mishap, a motorman on  a Virar-bound train indirectly blamed the BMC for the  collapse. “The bridge is the responsibility of the civic body. It has no connection with the railways as it is not connected to any platform of the station,” the motorman reasoned.

Even the two partners in the state government, the BJP and the Shiv Sena, do not see eye to eye on this. BJP leader and MP Kirit Somaiya asserted that the civic body is responsible for the maintenance of the bridge, while Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar of the Shiv Sena was equally adamant that it is the railways’ responsibility and the BMC provides funds for its maintenance.

Additional Municipal Commissioner Idzes Kundan gave the official version. “We are not responsible for the construction, maintenance or audit of the railway overbridge on railway premises. Both the audit and maintenance of the foot overbridge is vested with WR.” The Western Railway has made arrangements for the refund of tickets of passengers travelling by long distance trains, which were cancelled because of the mishap. As a special case, WR commuters were permitted to travel on alternate routes of the Central Railway, the WR said in a statement. Private airlines Vistara and Jet Airways said they had accommodated passengers running late due to traffic congestion. (With inputs from Agencies)

ELPHINSTONE Road REPLAY

After the stampede on the foot overbridge connecting Elphinstone Road and Parel railway stations on September 29, 2017, railway officials had first blamed rumours and then the rains for the mishap.




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