Bridge collapse: structural auditor arrested

Neeraj Kumar Desai charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder; police record statements of 31 victims and BMC chief engineer Sanjay Darade

Published - March 19, 2019 12:53 am IST - Mumbai

Long arm of the law:  Neeraj Kumar Desai of Prof DD Desai’s Associated Engineering Consultants and Analysts Pvt Ltd, who was arrested on Monday.

Long arm of the law: Neeraj Kumar Desai of Prof DD Desai’s Associated Engineering Consultants and Analysts Pvt Ltd, who was arrested on Monday.

The Azad Maidan police on Monday made their first arrest in connection with the collapse of the Himalaya Bridge last week.

The foot overbridge (FOB), which connects the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) to the BT Lane, had come crashing down on March 14, claiming six lives and leaving 31 people injured. The police registered an FIR in connection with the matter.

According to police officials, the arrested accused has been identified as Neeraj Kumar Desai (46), whose firm, Prof DD Desai’s Associated Engineering Consultants and Analysts Pvt Ltd, had conducted a structural audit of the bridge.

“During our inquiries, it was established that as a qualified professional and structural engineer, Mr. Desai was aware that his negligence in auditing the bridge could lead to damage to life or personal safety of people,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone I) Abhishek Trimukhe said.

Mr. Desai was charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder. He will be produced in the Esplanade Court on Tuesday.

“Officials from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had visited his residence to issue him a notice, but he was not found. We picked him up in Saki Naka and brought him to the police station for inquiries, after which he was arrested,” Mr. Trimukhe said.

Meanwhile, the police have also recorded statements of 31 victims of the collapse and also of chief engineer Sanjay Darade with the BMC.

“Mr. Darade’s statement was recorded so that we could understand the systems in place for repairing and maintenance of FOBs. Inquiries so far indicate that the maintenance of the FOB near CSMT was under the BMC’s purview. We are yet to find documentary evidence to indicate that the Central Railway had any role to play in the maintenance aspect,” Mr. Trimukhe said.

In a show cause notice issued to DD Desai’s firm on Saturday, the BMC had pointed out several instances of negligence on the firm’s part, including how the FOB was certified to be in ‘good’ condition, and how it collapsed a mere five months after the audit report was submitted on August 13, 2018. The notice also mentioned that the firm wrongly stated the year of construction of the bridge as 1998, while it was actually constructed in 1984-1986.

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