Gokhale bridge work delayed by 6 months, contractor liable for ₹5.08 crore fine: RTI | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Gokhale bridge work delayed by 6 months, contractor liable for 5.08 crore fine: RTI

Feb 23, 2024 06:54 AM IST

BMC delays Gokhale bridge refurbishing by 6 months, faces ₹5.08 crore fine. Partial opening by month-end, full completion by December 31.

Mumbai: Even as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) prepares to partially open the Gokhale bridge in Andheri by the end of this month, work on the bridge has been delayed by six months, according to information obtained by advocate Godfrey Pimenta through a right to information (RTI) application. The contractor should be fined 5.08 crore as compensation as per the tender document, said Pimenta, urging the civic body to collect the fine and ensure accountability.

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According to the RTI response received by the lawyer, the tender for refurbishing Gokhale bridge was valued at 84.72 crore. The contract was awarded on January 6, 2023, and should have been completed on September 5, 2023. But the project overshot the deadline by 24 weeks owing delays in launch of the girder and assembly of the fabricated steel structure in Ambala, which was affected by floods.

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There was a 37-day delay at the start of the project, as the tender was opened on November 30, 2022, while the work order was issued on January 6, 2023. Thereafter, getting approval from the railways for launching the girder caused a major delay. Fabricating and erecting the girder over the railway tracks comprised the major portion of the tender and was valued at 77.20 crore, approximately 91% of the tender amount. “The railways gave the least priority to approving the girder launch,” said Pimenta. Trial runs for erecting the girder were eventually conducted on November 30 and December 1, 2023, while the final launch happened on December 2-3, 2023.

The fabrication of the steel structure of the new bridge in Ambala was also marred by delays, the RTI response showed. “Work on the assembly was affected by the floods in north India,” said Pimenta. “Ideally, such a huge structure should have been assembled in and around the MMR region to save on transportation and reduce risks,” he said.

Clause 84 of the tender document mandates that if the execution is delayed due to reasons attributable to the contractor, then the BMC is entitled to a compensation of 0.5% of the tender cost per week, subject to a ceiling of 7.5% of the tender cost. “As such, the compensation works out to 5.08crore, or 6% of the total contract value,” said Pimenta.

On August 29, 2019, BMC chief IS Chahal had also issued a circular saying if major projects costing over 50 crore were delayed, 50% of the monthly salary of the concerned executive engineer and 20% of the payment due to the contractor would be deducted. “Seeking compensation is the only way to ensure accountability and transparency to safeguard public interest,” said Pimenta.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, local MLA Ameet Satam provided an update on the progress of the project. “Work on one section of the bridge is almost complete and some finishing touches are being given such as curing of access on the SV Road end, which could take 7-10 days,” he said.

Additional municipal commissioner (projects) P Velrasu too said one lane of the bridge would be ready for opening before the end of the month. The lane will have a height barrier of 2.8 metres and entry of vehicles above that height will be restricted till both lanes are thrown open to commuters. The deadline for complete opening of the bridge has been pushed to December 31.

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