A day after a girder fell from an under-construction elevated Sahar airport connector road, killing three and injuring six, the blame game has begun.
On Thursday, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), the government-appointed supervisor of such projects, said it had no role to play in the construction. “The MMRDA makes it clear that the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) is constructing the 1.5-km stretch from Hyatt Regency to International Airport Terminal-2, which is in the MIAL jurisdiction, where the accident took place,” said the MMRDA statement.
“The MMRDA has no role to play as far as the construction of this stretch is concerned. It is constructing the 2-km stretch of the elevated road from Hanuman Road Junction on the Western Express Highway up to Hyatt Regency on Sahar Road,” it added.
The MIAL blamed construction firm Larsen and Toubro (L&T) which was given the work contract. L&T spokesperson rubbished the allegation, saying that the company follows the best industry practices.
Jaiprakash Giram, senior inspector of Sahar police station, said a case had been registered against the three. “We arrested the site engineer (Subbiah Venu, 34), foreman (Lakhvir Singh, 27) and supervisor (Pechi Subramanyam, 27),” he said. Although a senior cop said L&T had not taken permission for working during the night, the company officials said they had.
The situation on Thursday was similar to the one on September 4 last year when a concourse of the under-construction Airport Road metro station on Andheri-Kurla road, part of the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar route, collapsed killing a labourer and injuring 16. The MMRDA, which oversaw the bids for the metro corridor, had passed the buck to Mumbai Metro One Private Limited, a Reliance Infra-led private consortium which has MMRDA as its minor partner.
The arrangement was a strange one where the MMRDA was both the bid-inviter and part of the concessionaire team that won the bid. The issue got complicated as MMOPL was under an agreement with Hindustan Construction Company (HCC), the firm that is building the Airport Road station where the mishap took place, where just about every right held by MMOPL was passed on to HCC. This included everything from the station’s construction to ensuring technical safety.