Army to hand over 3 new FoBs at Mumbai stations to Railways today

MUMBAI: The Indian Army’s Bombay Engineering Group and Centre (BEG), also known as Bombay Sappers, will hand over the three newly constructed foot overbridges (FoBs) at Elphinstone Road-Parel, Currey Road and Ambivli stations in Mumbai to the railway authorities on Monday.

Railway minister Piyush Goyal will formally inaugurate the bridges on Tuesday in the presence of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

“We finished our work at Currey Road bridge on Saturday evening. The FoB at Ambivali was completed last month. But the railway authorities wanted to open all the three FoBs simultaneously,” a senior army officer associated with the project said.

As many as 23 people died in a stampede on the overbridge at Elphinstone Road railway station on September 29, 2017. Goyal, Sitharaman and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had visited the Elphinstone Road station on October 31 and announced that the army will construct the three FOBs.

BEG Commandant Brigadier Dhiraj Mohan, who inspected all the three bridges on Sunday, told, “It’s a proud feeling for us to finish the work in the stipulated time. It was a learning experience as to how to synergize different civil agencies and carry out the work. Most importantly, our contribution will always remain in the hearts of the Mumbaikars.”

He added, “It was a daunting task, considering that we never dealt with such civil projects. We are mainly into combat engineering work. For the construction of FoBs, we had to take assistance from various departments, including civil agencies. We got all the required assistance and managed to complete the project in a short span of time.”

A senior officer from the Army Souther Command here said the defence ministry had given special powers to BEG in December. “This enabled timely completion of the tender process and other works following discussions over the nitty-gritty of the project with railway authorities,. The 512 army base workshop team, based in Pune, carried out the fabrication test, while other civil agencies carried out the pile foundation, steel and concrete tests.” he said.

“These bridges are strong enough to cater to the requirements of the railway and are designed for load class 30 tonnes (military classification). We also took the railways or the Indian standard design into consideration, which is 5.5 tonne per sqm load,” the officer added.

Sources in BEG said each site had a different challenge. “We had to remove three houses at Ambivali site. At Currey road, we had to deal with a private party to get a plot in the station’s vicinity. At Elphinstone, we had to make certain changes in our original designs due to the railways’ future expansion plans. There were 13 railway tracks (Western and Central). Safety and security of our personnel were a big challenge at the site,” an officer said.

Brigadier Mohan had appointed a bridge commander, an officer of the rank of a major, for each bridge site to monitor the work. Colonel Vinayak Ramaswamy was appointed the overall in-charge.

Launching of the bridge was a major challenge, the officer said. “For this particular task, BEG trained 30 Sappers at the Training Battalion (II) in Dighi. Later, the team successfully launched bridges at each site,” an officer said.

Lt-Col YS Chauhan and Lt-Col Vamsi Mohan from the Military Engineering Services, Pune played a key role in designing all three bridges in time. As many as 200 Sappers worked on the project.