Mumbai

Frame fresh policy to audit FOBs in city: HC tells BMC

Seeking action: A PIL has sought an investigation by the Commissioner of Police into the Himalaya Bridge collapse and filing of an FIR against erring officers of the BMC.

Seeking action: A PIL has sought an investigation by the Commissioner of Police into the Himalaya Bridge collapse and filing of an FIR against erring officers of the BMC.   | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday rapped authorities for the collapse of the Himalaya Bridge and directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to frame a new policy for the audit, repair and maintenance of foot overbridges (FOBs).

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Naresh Patil and Justice N.M. Jamdar was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by RTI activist Shakeel Ahmed. After the collapse of the Himalaya Bridge on March 14, which killed six people, Mr. Ahmed had filed the PIL urging the court to set up a judicial inquiry headed by a retired High Court judge. The PIL also urged the court to cancel all contracts and work awarded by the BMC to structural consultants.

The PIL has sought a direction from the court to the BMC, the Central Railway and the Western Railway to jointly carry out fresh structural audits of flyovers, bridges and FOBs in collaboration with IIT Bombay in a time-bound manner. The PIL also sought an investigation by the Commissioner of Police into the FOB collapse and filing of an FIR against erring officers of the BMC.

The court said that the BMC must not rely on private auditors and must come up with a new policy for the audit, repair, and upkeep of rail and foot overbridges in the city. The Bench went on to say that the BMC must appoint its own staff members, who are experts in the field, as supervisory authorities to carry out routine checks after the structural audits conducted by private parties.

The court said that the chief engineer of bridges must be held accountable for lapses. The court said, “Ask him to conduct routine checks over and above the structural audits. Let this incident be an eye opener for you.” The Bench said that the BMC must streamline its tender process to introduce stringent criteria to ensure that only contractors with expertise are chosen to carry out audits and repair works. The court asked the BMC to consider handing over the structural audits of the bridges that has the most footfalls to the IIT Bombay in Powai or the Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute in Matunga.

‘Focus on quality’

Referring to the amount of ₹2.5 crore spent by the civic body on the audit of bridges in 2017-2018, the court said, “When you [the BMC] are spending crores of rupees, then why don’t you want quality?” The matter will be heard on April 24.

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2020 3:23:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/frame-fresh-policy-to-audit-fobs-in-city-hc-tells-bmc/article26715534.ece

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