The Maharashtra government had planned to dismantle the ill-fated British era bridge across Savitri River at Mahad, whose collapse over a week ago claimed 26 lives.
The Mahad bridge was supposed to be pulled down last December but it was kept under operation due to public demand, state PWD minister Chandrakant Patil said.
So far, 26 bodies have been recovered while nearly 14 are still missing and feared dead following the collapse of the bridge on Mumbai-Goa highway on August 2.
Rescuers are continuing their efforts, braving high water current and crocodile hotbeds in the river, to trace the missing, even as the anxious relatives vent up their anger over the pace of the search operation.
“This particular bridge at Mahad was to be brought down last December but due to the public demand it was kept in operation,” Patil told reporters here.
Soon after the tragedy, Union Surface Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari had announced that NHAI would reconstruct the bridge within 18 months.
Patil said there are about 2,300 bridges in the state out of which 100 odd are from the British and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj era.
“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, adding that the process of constituting the judicial inquiry is underway.
“A workshop will be conducted for the PWD engineers for methodology to be used for inspection of the bridges,” which will dwell on what to do with trees that grow on the bridge structure weakening it later.
He said pulling out trees does not solve the issue.
Patil said it will have to be decided on 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,” he said.
On solatium to the deceased, he said the state cabinet has reduced the waiting period for granting compensation to the kin of the deceased in such incidents to two months, he said. If the missing people are not traced within two months, the government will declare them dead.
He said that Maharashtra State Road Development Corpration has given total Rs. 14 lakh as compensation for the kin of every deceased travelling in the ST buses and Rs. 10 lakh for kin of people on other vehicles involved in the Mahad tragedy.