The company that conducted a structural audit of the Mumbai bridge that collapsed on March 14, killing six people and leaving over 30 severely injured, has been traced by India Today TV.
The firm has been traced to a tiny flat located in by-lanes of Andheri West, Mumbai, Maharashtra.
India Today TV’s special investigation has brought to light that the firm is named Prof DD Desai’s Associated Engineering Consultants and Analysts. These consultants and analysts had ‘reportedly’ conducted structural audit of the foot overbridge (FOB) at CST and had given a report stating that it was in a good condition.
The firm had received a contract for carrying out structural audits of 39 bridges and flyovers in South Mumbai for a sum of Rs 63 lakh.
The report for the Himalaya FOB that collapsed was submitted on August 13, 2018, stating that it was in a good condition and needed minor repairs.
INDIA TODAY VISITS THE FLAT
India Today TV visited the spot and found that the flat belongs to the Desai family. The flat is located in a small three-storey building which could be easily 40 years old. Each floor has four flats and Desai family, which runs the company, stays on the third floor.
GB Patil Building is another address registered as the firm’s office in Andheri, Mumbai; the building didn’t exist at the place.
India Today TV reporters when asked about the office address and that the building not existing, the relative said that the building indeed exists at the mentioned spot.
Sources said that the firm was being run from the house itself and the company barely had any staff working for them.
India Today TV team visited the house and tried speaking to the person who runs the firm but the family members refused to divulge any information about the person who runs the firm stating that professor Desai was in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
The Desai family resides in a tiny flat on the third floor of Divya Prakash Building in Andheri West. Two senior citizens, and other family members reside in the flat which has no or minimal furniture.
RELATIVES DON’T SAY MUCH
Speaking to India Today TV, the family members said that everything was one-sided and that they would take a legal course.
When asked about their firm’s history, they said we do not want to say anything about it.
Responding to India Today TV’s queries on if the firm really carried out structural audit of the bridge, a relative said ‘whatever we are saying is being misconceived so we cannot say anything as we are not authorised to say anything’.
THE BMC AND STRUCTURAL AUDIT
The BMC, in their preliminary investigation report submitted on Friday (March 15), said, “Prima facie it is reasonably concluded that the structural audit was not carried out correctly and major lapses are observed in conducting the structural audit of the bridge on the background of sudden collapse of the bridge on March 14, 2019, ie; within a short period of submission of report which was on August 13, 2018.”
“In view of the above, suitable action against the structural auditor for his casual approach while performing the structural audit is proposed,” the BMC report said.
BMC, REPORT AND RELATIVES
When asked about the BMC pinning the blame for the Mumbai bridge collapse on the their firm, a family member said that they will pursue a legal course of action and respond to notices served by the BMC.
India Today TV’s team visited another contractor’s office located in Vile Parle, Mumbai, Maharashtra.
RPS Infraprojects has been named in the preliminary report by the BMC’s vigilance department as the firm hat had carried out repairs on the bridge in 2013.
The firm which is presently blacklisted by the BMC after a case was registered against it and its owners Nitin Shah and Ketan Shah in 2016 for their involvement in the Rs 350-crore road repairs scam that rocked the BMC.
RPS Infraprojects, run by the Shah brothers after being blacklisted, created new companies in the names their family members.
One such company is Spenco Infrastructure.
Spenco Infrastructure is owned 90 per cent by Ketan Shah’s wife Sejal. This company last year won a contract of constructing a Rs 120-crore bridge on SV Road in Borivali, Mumbai.
This brings to light how these contractors, even after being blacklisted for corruption and substandard work, have been circumventing the law with the help of some corrupt BMC officials.
The India Today TV team wasn’t even allowed to enter the office. The staffers answered through peephole in the door.
The staffers informed the India Today TV team that a meeting had been called on urgent basis by owners of the firm and the same was going on in the office.
It was only after the repeated requests the India Today TV team was able to talk Nitin Shah over a phone call.
Speaking to India Today TV, Nitin Shah confirmed that his firm has been blacklisted by the BMC and that their firm was named in the road scam. He says that he will have to check what happened as his company had contract of minor repairs of the bridge and not structural repairs and it was six years so he will have to check with his technical team on what had happened then.
When asked about six deaths in the Mumbai bridge collapse, Shah said that he will have ascertain with his team whether the bridge collapsed due to their fault or not.
Shah said, “I don’t know what notice is it, whether it is substandard work or something, whether supervision was lacking, or the work didn’t happen properly.”
When asked what kind of work does his company do, as his company was blacklisted in road scam, he said, “Yes, I was blacklisted in road scam but it was six years ago and cannot say what fault was there.
Shah concluded saying, “Yes, the bridge has fallen but I cannot officially say anything to you right now.”