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Mumbai footover bridge collapse: Audit company’s owner arrested

A team from the Azad Maidan police station, probing the FOB collapse on March 14, reached Desai's Andheri (West) residence on Monday morning. They returned empty-handed as he was not at home. The team finally zeroed in on Desai in Sakinaka in the afternoon and arrested him. He will be produced before the Esplanade court on Tuesday.

Saima Siddiqui

Saima SiddiquiBy Saima Siddiqui

Published on 19 March 2019 6:52 AM GMT

Mumbai footover bridge collapse: Audit company’s owner arrested
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Mumbai footover bridge collapse: Audit company’s owner arrested
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Mumbai: In the investigation of Himalaya foot overbridge collapse, which killed six people, Mumbai police has made its first arrest in the case, on Monday, by nabbing the owner of the firm, Neeraj Desai, that had carried out a structural audit of the FOB and certified it to be in "good condition" in 2018.

The 48 years-old Desai faces charges under Section 304-II of IPC of not amounting to murder, which prescribes a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail. The charge was updated on Sunday night from Section 304(A)-negligence causing death, that means a maximum jail term of two years-that was slapped when the FIR was filed on the night of March 14.

However, the arrest of the auditor is counted just a one step in the direction of ensuring accountability, responsibility must also be fixed with as much haste on the BMC officials as well, whose negligence was highlighted by civic chief Ajoy Mehta himself.

Acting upon junior-level engineers and letting their supervisors on loose will not bring any change in the system. After all, the high official are also answerable as they are supposed to supervise and monitor their junior's work. Equally stringent charges must be slapped on them too.

Desai owns 'Professor D D Desai's Associates Engineering Consultants', empanelment with the BMC and tasked with auditing 39 bridges and FOBs in south Mumbai in 2016.

"During our initial investigation, we found that experts were involved in the audit and they knew people could lose their lives due to negligence," said zonal DCP Abhishek Trimukhe, pointing out that Desai had personally audited the FOB.

A team from the Azad Maidan police station, probing the FOB collapse on March 14, reached Desai's Andheri (West) residence on Monday morning. They returned empty-handed as he was not at home. The team finally zeroed in on Desai in Sakinaka in the afternoon and arrested him. He will be produced before the Esplanade court on Tuesday.

Desai, who holds a masters in structural engineering, had knowledge about the bridge's actual condition, said the police. "We are questioning him. We have spoken to Sanjay Darade, chief engineer (bridges), to understand the functioning, job profile and responsibilities of the auditor, and others. We also got information on who was supposed to maintain the bridge and how it was done," said a senior police officer.

The BMC submitted its report on Friday that concluded that negligence and irresponsible nature of the audit was the reason behind the collapse of the FOB and loss of human lives. It also suggested an FIR against the auditor and de-empanelment of the firm with the BMC.

Saima Siddiqui

Saima Siddiqui

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