About 42 Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) engineers have taken leave from work to mark their protest as three BMC engineers have been arrested in the Himalaya Foot Over Bridge (FOB) at Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj terminus (CSMT) collapse incident.
As a part of their probe into the FOB Collapse incident, which killed seven people, the Azad Maidan police has arrested Shitala Prasad Kori, a retired chief engineer with the bridges department. He was in-charge of the department until he retired in December last year. He was arrested on charges of negligence and, has been sent to police custody till May 10. This is the third arrest in the incident.
“We are undergoing a lot of stress. All this should stop, because tomorrow, any engineer could be arrested in any case. Then what are consultants for? Their job is to audit bridges,” said Sainath Rajadhyaksha, president, Municipal Engineers’ Union.
Representatives of several civic engineers’ unions met Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta on May 8, Wednesday. Later, they staged a protest at the BMC’s engineering hub in Worli. “This is a spontaneous protest. We met the commissioner in the morning and expressed our concerns over Mr. Kori’s arrest. He gave a positive response. We will be holding an official meeting of all engineers on Thursday to discuss the future course of action,” Rajadhyaksha said, quoted media reports.
At the meeting, it was decided that all the BMC engineers would join their bridges counterparts in a protest next week, the protest would be held at the Azad Maidan. “The engineers will work only for their regular hours on Monday and Tuesday but from Wednesday to Friday, a protest would be held at Azad Maidan condemning the police action,” threatened Rajadhyaksha, quoted media reports.
The protest is planned when there are 40 projects, which includes construction of crucial bridges like Hancock and Delise bridges, are at full swing. Major repair work of 47 other bridges and minor repair of 170 bridges are in progress.
A senior BMC official said that the protest will seriously hamper the re- audit of bridges as well as their maintenance. An engineer cried, “If this is the atmosphere, who will want to work in the BMC? A man like Mr. Kori, who has such a clean image, was arrested. Two engineers have been arrested in the past. But when the bridge collapsed on the Savitri river in Mahad years ago, was anyone arrested? The BMC is soft target.”
According to a report, out of 57 engineers in the department, 42 from the level of sub engineers to deputy engineers have applied for mass leave.
After the FOB collapsed in April this year, Sandeep Kalkute, who was an assistant engineer in the bridge department of the BMC was arrested. Later, executive engineer A.R Patil, who was supervising the structural audit of the bridge in 2017- 2018, was arrested and finally Chief Engineer (Bridges) Mr. Kori was arrested this week.