Gokhale Bridge, a crucial east-west connector in Mumbai’s Andheri, is facing further delay in its reconstruction works. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had shut down vehicular and pedestrian movement on the old Gokhale Bridge in November 2022 and issued a work order for constructing the new prefabricated steel structure in December 2022. The original deadline for starting one arm of the bridge was May 2023. However, due to a delay in the supply of raw materials by the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), the deadline has been pushed to November.
The supply of raw materials has been affected following a strike in the Rourkela plant of SAIL, causing the contractor to place an order with Jindal. The delivery is expected to start from the end of April and will be completed fully by July 15. The BMC has already written to Jindal, asking them to speed up the delivery.
Local MLA Ameet Satam, who carried out a joint site visit with additional municipal commissioner P Velrasu, said that the required steel is of a highly specific grade and only two manufacturers can produce it. While Jindal has one plant, SAIL has seven plants. He added that the launching of girders could only be carried out after the end of the monsoon.
Local citizens expressed concerns about the worsening traffic situation in Andheri, especially with the monsoon season approaching. With the Gokhale Bridge shut down, citizens are worried about the two nearest alternate routes, Andheri Subway and Capt. Vinayak Gore flyover in Vile Parle, leading to heavy traffic jams in the area. Dhaval Shah from Lokhandwala Oshiwara Citizen’s Association expressed concerns about the only outflow in the area, the Mogra Nullah, and how water would be channelled out during high tides.
Residents from Andheri East and West have decided to hold a peaceful protest on May 14 to voice out their plight and bring the issue to the notice of civic and political leaders. Dinesh Mehta, an Andheri East resident, said that more than a million people have been cut off from this East-West connectivity, affecting homes, offices, and educational institutions. The BMC had previously committed to opening two lanes of the bridge before Monsoons 2023, but this commitment went for a toss with the revised November timeline.
The delay in the reconstruction works of the Gokhale Bridge is causing inconvenience to local citizens and is likely to lead to heavy traffic jams in the area. The BMC must ensure that the construction works are completed as soon as possible to alleviate the concerns of local citizens and ensure a smooth flow of traffic.