The pending work of the SV Road bridge at Malad is almost complete and both lanes have been opened up for traffic after four years. The work for the alignment of sideways will take another 15 days. However, while the work has been completed, a few owners of structures that were removed to widen the road haven’t received satisfactory compensation yet.
Swami Vivekananda (SV) Road is a key road that connects all the railway stations on the western line. The road sees a large amount of traffic flow and it wouldn’t seem feasible to close it to reconstruct the old bridge. Meanwhile, the bridge was declared dilapidated in 2019 after a structural audit and work began to reconstruct it. The bridge runs over a 10-metre-wide nullah. The width of SV Road is around 90 feet, the old bridge was 45 feet wide. With the construction of the new lanes on either side of the old bridge completed around June 2022, the bridge is now 90 feet wide. There were 16 shops on the right side of the road [towards Dahisar] which needed to be demolished. The size of shops on the opposite side needed to be reduced by around 6 to 7 feet.
But as the structures on both sides were not removed, the new lanes were not opened and heavy traffic continued on the dilapidated part of the bridge. mid-day, in a series of reports from November 2022, highlighted the issue of pending work of the bridge. After mid-day report in November 2022, the BMC started work in fast-track mode and 16 shops were finally removed in March 2023. Work on the dilapidated part of the bridge started simultaneously in March.
“After removing structures on SV Road, the bridge was opened to traffic,” said Kiran Dighavkar, assistant municipal commissioner of P North ward comprising Malad. He said work has been started on streets 91 to 101 to increase the width of SV Road. There are a few structures including two buildings remaining. The entire patch of SV Road from Kandivali to Goregaon will be widened once these structures are cleared.
According to an official from BMC’s bridges department, the work is 95 per cent complete and both the sides of bridge are now open for traffic. “The work of alignment of sideways with the original road is being carried out and will be completed within 15 days,” the official said. According to Dighavkar, the majority of people have already accepted compensation or alternate accommodation and “a process is going on for the rest”.
Meanwhile, a shop owner filed a petition in the Bombay High Court against the eviction, while a few other shop owners eligible for compensation for their shops claimed that they hadn’t received it yet. Kamal Jain, owner of a scrap shop, said that the BMC offered monetary compensation but he asked for an alternate shop. “They offered us shops in inconvenient places so we refused. We have been making rounds of the BMC office since March but haven’t received any firm response yet after six months,” said Jain. Another shopkeeper, Bharat Patel said, “Our shops were demolished long ago. I accepted monetary compensation. What else can we do? The matter is closed for me now.”
There were also many residential structures that needed to be removed to increase the width of SV road and eliminate bottlenecks. One of the residents, Jyoti Bhat told mid-day that the BMC allotted them a 250-square-feet house in a nearby 24-storey tower. “We do not have any issue staying here but the maintenance is Rs 2,700 per month and we cannot afford it with just one person’s salary. So I am going to write to the BMC to waive off the maintenance or reduce it,” said Bhat.
An engineer from the BMC’s bridges department had told mid-day in November 2022 about the delay in construction. “The construction couldn’t be started as there were shops on the bridge itself and the owners refused to move amid the COVID pandemic. Even the traffic police didn’t allow us to close the road so we strengthened the bridge for the time being. After the ward office [P-North] shifted the shops on the bridge, we started construction in December 2019,” said the official.
Width of new bridge