Crashed Mahad bridge was to be razed in December: Maharashtra govt

The ill-fated British-era bridge across Savitri river, whose collapse claimed 26 lives, was to be dismantled in December this year as part of Mumbai-Goa Highway expansion project, Maharashtra Government Wednesday said as search continued for people who went missing after the crash.

PTI| Last Updated: Aug 10, 2016, 23:38 PM IST

Mumbai: The ill-fated British-era bridge across Savitri river, whose collapse claimed 26 lives, was to be dismantled in December this year as part of Mumbai-Goa Highway expansion project, Maharashtra Government Wednesday said as search continued for people who went missing after the crash.

"The bridge was to be dismantled in December 2016 as part of Mumbai-Goa Highway widening project. However, it unfortunately got washed away due to heavy rainfall in upper regions of Mahabaleshwar (from where the river originates)," PWD Minister Chandrakant Patil told reporters here.

The structure at Mahad, about 170km from here in adjoining Raigad district, crashed on the night of August 2.

Two State Transport (ST) buses and a few private vehicles using the bridge on the busy highway fell into the flooded Savitri river. So far, 26 bodies have been recovered, while nearly 14 are still missing and feared dead.

Rescuers continued their efforts, braving high water current and crocodile hotbeds in the river, to trace the missing, even as anxious relatives expressed anger over the pace of the search operation, which entered eight day today.

"Search operation is on like before with same positioning and deployment of security forces. The crew of NDRF, Navy, Coast Guard and local divers are at work," Raigad Resident Deputy Collector Satish Bagal told PTI.

Patil said there are about 2,300 bridges in the State, of which 100-odd are from the British era and from the time of 17th century warrior-king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

"All these bridges will be inspected twice every year. A three-member committee of experts from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) has commenced its study about the collapsed bridge and the report is expected by the next Cabinet meeting due on August 23," he said.

The process of launching judicial inquiry into the crash is also underway, Patil said. "A workshop will be conducted for the PWD engineers for methodology to be used for inspection of the bridges."

Patil said it will have to be decided whether dilapidated bridges should be repaired or reconstructed. "A bridge division will be created in each administrative division of the State to take care of the bridges."

On solatium to the deceased, he said the State Cabinet, in this particular case, has reduced the waiting period for granting compensation to next to the kin to two months (from seven years as per existing rules), he said.

If the missing people are not traced within two months, the State will declare them dead and award solatium.

He said Maharashtra State Road Development Corp has given a compensation of Rs 14 lakh each to the kin of deceased travelling in the ST buses and Rs 10 lakh each to the family of deceased in other vehicles involved in the tragedy.