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Infrastructure woes and our woeful response

 
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alpa_sheth
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Joined: 26 Jan 2003
Posts: 256
Location: Mumbai

PostPosted: Thu May 23, 2019 1:40 pm    Post subject: Infrastructure woes and our woeful response Reply with quote

Dear All:

Here are links to a 2 part article I wrote on infrastructure
challenges in a magazine. It has the potential to generate a hot
debate!

Mumbai's Crumbling Infrastructure: Are We Burning Our Bridges Before
Crossing Them? -Part 1

https://www.moneylife.in/article/mumbais-crumbling-infrastructure-are-we-burning-our-bridges-before-crossing-them-part-1/57227.html

Mumbai's Crumbling Infrastructure: Knee-Jerk Solutions Leave Mumbai's
Lifeline Without a Spine- Part 2

https://www.moneylife.in/article/mumbais-crumbling-infrastructure-knee-jerk-solutions-leave-mumbais-lifeline-without-a-spine-part-2/57233.html

For those who would like to read in single page format, here it is

Infrastructure Woes And Our Woeful Response

Alpa Sheth

The most memorable character for me in 'Alice's Adventures in
Wonderland' was the whimsical ruler, the Queen of Hearts. Her
much-loved phrase which she would repeat ad nauseam was "Off with his
head!" / "Off with their heads!". I was reminded of her when I read in
the morning news report of May 12 2019 that, based on an IIT Bombay
report, the Western Railway had ordered another bridge to be
demolished, this time a foot over bridge (FOB) at the busy Dadar
station. The alacrity with which this decision has been taken
demonstrates extreme nervousness on part of the railways
administration post the partial collapse of the FOB at Chhatrapati
Shivaji Terminus (CST) on March 14, 2019 and its reluctance to take a
more considered line of action, including a peer review. I wonder if
the possible fallout of this decree to demolish the Dadar FOB has been
adequately examined, because while the memory of the CST FOB collapse
is still fresh in the minds of the state apparatus, it appears that
the stampede of September 29 2017 in which 23 people lost their lives
has vanished from our collective memory. The demolition of this wide
overbridge at Dadar has the potential to cause chaos in the event of
two trains arriving at a platform in quick succession as the other
parallel bridges are challenged by bottlenecks caused by narrow
landings. I would be sceptical about a disaster scenario simulation
and testing having been carried out before such a far-reaching
decision was taken. And there is certainly no regard to the
inconvenience likely to be suffered by commuters, harried as they
already are by the simultaneous construction of the metro line, road
repairs and road excavations to lay numerous pipes and cables. The
city has not yet recovered from IIT Bombay's earlier edict to demolish
the Delisle bridge at Parel and continues to reel from the loss of
millions of rupees due to perennial traffic snarls at Parel, arguably
Mumbai's new financial hub.

It would be fair to ask what exactly constitutes an "IIT" report, for
it to be taken as the holy bible by the administration. For the
government, an IIT is a magic wand-wielding institute, a one-stop
solution for all the government's woes when it does not know what to
do with a dilapidated building in the monsoon or is facing a PIL on
account of its stock of poorly maintained infrastructure- bridges,
hospitals, schools, colleges or when it wants to draft the building
codes for the country (a look at the code committees of the Bureau of
Indian Standards would be illuminating) or for vetting new
construction. (Many cities in the country have made being a faculty
member of an IIT a very lucrative affair by mandating that all
buildings within their jurisdiction exceeding stipulated height or
size must necessarily be vetted by an IIT or equivalent). IITs can at
times churn out reports with astonishing speed, much to the delight of
the government. Imagine, a faculty member of an IIT Bombay can be
tasked with study and submission of status report of 447 bridges
across Mumbai within six months. Unsurprisingly, we have two bridges
in the commercial capital of the second most populous country
demolished on the directions of an IIT Bombay report. When in doubt,
as the queen says, "Off with his head!"

Having been a Visiting Professor at one of the older IITs for three
years and worked for over two decades with numerous IIT professors, I
have seen firsthand that IIT reports are not that of the institute but
of an individual faculty member. It is not inconceivable to get
completely opposing reports for a structure from different faculty
members of the same IIT. That, an IIT professor once proudly said to
me, speaks well of the independent and fearless mindset of the IIT
professor. While that may be true, in some areas, especially in
matters of physics and mechanics, one would wish that an addition of
two plus two would unfailingly yield the same result of four,
especially when the stakes are high. There is nothing "institutional"
about reports from Indian Institutes of Technology, unlike the
institutional mechanisms that are followed in larger engineering
organisations- government or private. In such organisations, a
well-defined system exists in terms of supervision, oversight and
signoff at many levels. There is room for discussion and debate and
the final report that is released has usually passed multiple reviews
which the organisation has to take full ownership of. Not so in an IIT
project. The work is done by the individual faculty member and is
seldom subject to review (unless expressly stated by client) by a
second faculty member. Hence the report of an IIT is oftentimes quite
simply the opinion of a single IIT professor. More importantly, a
professional organisation (public or private) is legally liable for
the design or report. But IITs do not feel the need to stand up to
public scrutiny. Here's what is put up by IIT Bhubaneshwar on its website.
"The Institute undertakes to carry out the project as conscientiously
as conditions allow, but accepts no economic responsibility should the
work not lead to expected results. The Institute accepts the project
on condition that the Client renounces all right to claim damages for
losses sustained directly or indirectly in consequence of the work
done by the Institute." Such a disclaimer should be sufficient for any
client to scurry for cover. And yet for project after project, the
government will turn exclusively to the IITs for advice on new
projects, disaster management, health of public infrastructure and
much else.

Whatever happened to the Railways cadre of engineers, the IRSE,
considered to be one of the oldest and most elite of all Indian
engineering cadres that manages the department of civil engineering in
the Indian Railways? It is a shame that the Indian railways which had
one of the most comprehensive systems for inspection and maintenance
(the granular "Indian Railways Way and Works Manual" was first
published in 1967 and has seen numerous upgrades along the way) has
capitulated to the downward spiral in our institutions and has now
subcontracted its duties of inspection and audit to small time
consultants or one-man armies of the IITs. What does the railways have
to say for itself when one of its own bridges (Dadar FOB) constructed
in 1993 and which has barely reached midlife, is now deemed to be so
heavily corroded as to be unfit to carry intended loads?

It is unusual to demolish bridges which are lifelines of a city
without arranging an alternate travel path. New replacement bridges
for the Bay bridge between Oakland and San Francisco, California, or
the Tappan Zee bridge in New York or even the Vashi bridge in Mumbai
were commissioned before the old bridge was demolished. It is
astounding to any structural engineer as to why a steel bridge which
is relatively much simpler to retrofit could not have been
strengthened adequately for it to last until a new bridge was built
and traffic shifted to it before commencing its demolition. It is also
a sad statement on another of Mumbai's institutions, the Heritage
committee of Mumbai which did not lean in and protect an important
heritage structure of Mumbai. DeLisle bridge was a steel bridge
fabricated in England and shipped piece by piece to Mumbai in 1918.
And it is a damning statement on the apathy of Mumbai's structural
engineers that they did not intervene and imagine an innovative
retrofit for the bridge.

We need to reflect if as a society we have even a modicum of a
scientific temperament left in us. Following the partial collapse of
the floor slab system of the foot over bridge at the Chhatrapati
Shivaji Terminus railway station, the municipal corporation overnight
dismantled the main girders of the bridge which were in perfectly good
condition, behaving like bumbling police in detective films who
mindlessly destroy or contaminate all evidence at the scene of the
crime. So we have an inquiry based on an absent bridge and absent
files (the drawings file of the bridge has gone missing). The hapless
auditor of the bridge was a company started by a professor of one of
the oldest government engineering colleges in Mumbai. So at one end we
have implementation of a non-peer-reviewed decision to demolish the
DeLisle bridge and at the other end a dangerous safety affirmation of
a seriously compromised foot overbridge at CSMT.

We need to have more systems and processes in place. Atul Gawande in
his book "Checklist" sings paeans to the detailed system of checklists
prevalent in the construction industry. If only he knew the reality in
India. It serves no one, least of all the financial capital of India
to use IITs or some favoured consultant(s) as a fig leaf to rubber
stamp and whitewash systemic problems in infrastructure. Crumbling
infrastructure is a global problem but nowhere is it treated with such
nonchalance as in India. It is not necessary for the municipal
corporation or the railways to get into defensive mode after each
failure. And it is self-defeating to see every failure as an occasion
to guillotine some municipal engineer or use a structural consultant
as scapegoat. It would serve the municipal corporation better if it
could get into a proper enquiry mode to understand causes of failure
and then create a road map for avoiding similar situations in the
future. Conversely, every time we have a bridge deemed unfit for use
by a consultant, we need to have a committee review this and see the
cost-benefit ratio to carry out repairs to extend its life until a
replacement bridge is in place rather than simply demolishing it
without a Plan B in place. The culture of cronyism in selection of
consultants and contractors needs to be done away with, if we have the
intention of improving the infrastructure of the city.

And pray, what would it take for the railways to shake the dust off
its own maintenance manuals and regain its lost glory of excellence in
engineering?

****************************

regards,

Alpa Sheth
links

https://www.moneylife.in/article/mumbais-crumbling-infrastructure-are-we-burning-our-bridges-before-crossing-them-part-1/57227.html

https://www.moneylife.in/article/mumbais-crumbling-infrastructure-knee-jerk-solutions-leave-mumbais-lifeline-without-a-spine-part-2/57233.html

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prasadam_iitm
SEFI Member
SEFI Member


Joined: 16 Nov 2012
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Thu May 23, 2019 3:30 pm    Post subject: Infrastructure woes and our woeful response Reply with quote

Dear Alpa,

Greeting Someone! I share your anguish! Let us hope some saner thinking comes about after reading your article.


With regards


A Meher Prasad

Sent from my iPad

On 23-May-2019, at 7:12 PM, alpa_sheth <forum@sefindia.org (forum@sefindia.org)> wrote:


Quote:
  Dear All:

Here are links to a 2 part article I wrote on infrastructure
challenges in a magazine. It has the potential to generate a hot
debate!

Mumbai's Crumbling Infrastructure: Are We Burning Our Bridges Before
Crossing Them? -Part 1

https://www.moneylife.in/article/mumbais-crumbling-infrastructure-are-we-burning-our-bridges-before-crossing-them-part-1/57227.html

Mumbai's Crumbling Infrastructure: Knee-Jerk Solutions Leave Mumbai's
Lifeline Without a Spine- Part 2

https://www.moneylife.in/article/mumbais-crumbling-infrastructure-knee-jerk-solutions-leave-mumbais-lifeline-without-a-spine-part-2/57233.html

For those who would like to read in single page format, here it is

Infrastructure Woes And Our Woeful Response

Alpa Sheth

The most memorable character for me in 'Alice's Adventures in
Wonderland' was the whimsical ruler, the Queen of Hearts. Her
much-loved phrase which she would repeat ad nauseam was "Off with his
head!" / "Off with their heads!". I was reminded of her when I read in
the morning news report of May 12 2019 that, based on an IIT Bombay
report, the Western Railway had ordered another bridge to be
demolished, this time a foot over bridge (FOB) at the busy Dadar
station. The alacrity with which this decision has been taken
demonstrates extreme nervousness on part of the railways
administration post the partial collapse of the FOB at Chhatrapati
Shivaji Terminus (CST) on March 14, 2019 and its reluctance to take a
more considered line of action, including a peer review. I wonder if
the possible fallout of this decree to demolish the Dadar FOB has been
adequately examined, because while the memory of the CST FOB collapse
is still fresh in the minds of the state apparatus, it appears that
the stampede of September 29 2017 in which 23 people lost their lives
has vanished from our collective memory. The demolition of this wide
overbridge at Dadar has the potential to cause chaos in the event of
two trains arriving at a platform in quick succession as the other
parallel bridges are challenged by bottlenecks caused by narrow
landings. I would be sceptical about a disaster scenario simulation
and testing having been carried out before such a far-reaching
decision was taken. And there is certainly no regard to the
inconvenience likely to be suffered by commuters, harried as they
already are by the simultaneous construction of the metro line, road
repairs and road excavations to lay numerous pipes and cables. The
city has not yet recovered from IIT Bombay's earlier edict to demolish
the Delisle bridge at Parel and continues to reel from the loss of
millions of rupees due to perennial traffic snarls at Parel, arguably
Mumbai's new financial hub.

It would be fair to ask what exactly constitutes an "IIT" report, for
it to be taken as the holy bible by the administration. For the
government, an IIT is a magic wand-wielding institute, a one-stop
solution for all the government's woes when it does not know what to
do with a dilapidated building in the monsoon or is facing a PIL on
account of its stock of poorly maintained infrastructure- bridges,
hospitals, schools, colleges or when it wants to draft the building
codes for the country (a look at the code committees of the Bureau of
Indian Standards would be illuminating) or for vetting new
construction. (Many cities in the country have made being a faculty
member of an IIT a very lucrative affair by mandating that all
buildings within their jurisdiction exceeding stipulated height or
size must necessarily be vetted by an IIT or equivalent). IITs can at
times churn out reports with astonishing speed, much to the delight of
the government. Imagine, a faculty member of an IIT Bombay can be
tasked with study and submission of status report of 447 bridges
across Mumbai within six months. Unsurprisingly, we have two bridges
in the commercial capital of the second most populous country
demolished on the directions of an IIT Bombay report. When in doubt,
as the queen says, "Off with his head!"

Having been a Visiting Professor at one of the older IITs for three
years and worked for over two decades with numerous IIT professors, I
have seen firsthand that IIT reports are not that of the institute but
of an individual faculty member. It is not inconceivable to get
completely opposing reports for a structure from different faculty
members of the same IIT. That, an IIT professor once proudly said to
me, speaks well of the independent and fearless mindset of the IIT
professor. While that may be true, in some areas, especially in
matters of physics and mechanics, one would wish that an addition of
two plus two would unfailingly yield the same result of four,
especially when the stakes are high. There is nothing "institutional"
about reports from Indian Institutes of Technology, unlike the
institutional mechanisms that are followed in larger engineering
organisations- government or private. In such organisations, a
well-defined system exists in terms of supervision, oversight and
signoff at many levels. There is room for discussion and debate and
the final report that is released has usually passed multiple reviews
which the organisation has to take full ownership of. Not so in an IIT
project. The work is done by the individual faculty member and is
seldom subject to review (unless expressly stated by client) by a
second faculty member. Hence the report of an IIT is oftentimes quite
simply the opinion of a single IIT professor. More importantly, a
professional organisation (public or private) is legally liable for
the design or report. But IITs do not feel the need to stand up to
public scrutiny. Here's what is put up by IIT Bhubaneshwar on its website.
"The Institute undertakes to carry out the project as conscientiously
as conditions allow, but accepts no economic responsibility should the
work not lead to expected results. The Institute accepts the project
on condition that the Client renounces all right to claim damages for
losses sustained directly or indirectly in consequence of the work
done by the Institute." Such a disclaimer should be sufficient for any
client to scurry for cover. And yet for project after project, the
government will turn exclusively to the IITs for advice on new
projects, disaster management, health of public infrastructure and
much else.

Whatever happened to the Railways cadre of engineers, the IRSE,
considered to be one of the oldest and most elite of all Indian
engineering cadres that manages the department of civil engineering in
the Indian Railways? It is a shame that the Indian railways which had
one of the most comprehensive systems for inspection and maintenance
(the granular "Indian Railways Way and Works Manual" was first
published in 1967 and has seen numerous upgrades along the way) has
capitulated to the downward spiral in our institutions and has now
subcontracted its duties of inspection and audit to small time
consultants or one-man armies of the IITs. What does the railways have
to say for itself when one of its own bridges (Dadar FOB) constructed
in 1993 and which has barely reached midlife, is now deemed to be so
heavily corroded as to be unfit to carry intended loads?

It is unusual to demolish bridges which are lifelines of a city
without arranging an alternate travel path. New replacement bridges
for the Bay bridge between Oakland and San Francisco, California, or
the Tappan Zee bridge in New York or even the Vashi bridge in Mumbai
were commissioned before the old bridge was demolished. It is
astounding to any structural engineer as to why a steel bridge which
is relatively much simpler to retrofit could not have been
strengthened adequately for it to last until a new bridge was built
and traffic shifted to it before commencing its demolition. It is also
a sad statement on another of Mumbai's institutions, the Heritage
committee of Mumbai which did not lean in and protect an important
heritage structure of Mumbai. DeLisle bridge was a steel bridge
fabricated in England and shipped piece by piece to Mumbai in 1918.
And it is a damning statement on the apathy of Mumbai's structural
engineers that they did not intervene and imagine an innovative
retrofit for the bridge.

We need to reflect if as a society we have even a modicum of a
scientific temperament left in us. Following the partial collapse of
the floor slab system of the foot over bridge at the Chhatrapati
Shivaji Terminus railway station, the municipal corporation overnight
dismantled the main girders of the bridge which were in perfectly good
condition, behaving like bumbling police in detective films who
mindlessly destroy or contaminate all evidence at the scene of the
crime. So we have an inquiry based on an absent bridge and absent
files (the drawings file of the bridge has gone missing). The hapless
auditor of the bridge was a company started by a professor of one of
the oldest government engineering colleges in Mumbai. So at one end we
have implementation of a non-peer-reviewed decision to demolish the
DeLisle bridge and at the other end a dangerous safety affirmation of
a seriously compromised foot overbridge at CSMT.

We need to have more systems and processes in place. Atul Gawande in
his book "Checklist" sings paeans to the detailed system of checklists
prevalent in the construction industry. If only he knew the reality in
India. It serves no one, least of all the financial capital of India
to use IITs or some favoured consultant(s) as a fig leaf to rubber
stamp and whitewash systemic problems in infrastructure. Crumbling
infrastructure is a global problem but nowhere is it treated with such
nonchalance as in India. It is not necessary for the municipal
corporation or the railways to get into defensive mode after each
failure. And it is self-defeating to see every failure as an occasion
to guillotine some municipal engineer or use a structural consultant
as scapegoat. It would serve the municipal corporation better if it
could get into a proper enquiry mode to understand causes of failure
and then create a road map for avoiding similar situations in the
future. Conversely, every time we have a bridge deemed unfit for use
by a consultant, we need to have a committee review this and see the
cost-benefit ratio to carry out repairs to extend its life until a
replacement bridge is in place rather than simply demolishing it
without a Plan B in place. The culture of cronyism in selection of
consultants and contractors needs to be done away with, if we have the
intention of improving the infrastructure of the city.

And pray, what would it take for the railways to shake the dust off
its own maintenance manuals and regain its lost glory of excellence in
engineering?

****************

regards,

Alpa Sheth
links

https://www.moneylife.in/article/mumbais-crumbling-infrastructure-are-we-burning-our-bridges-before-crossing-them-part-1/57227.html

https://www.moneylife.in/article/mumbais-crumbling-infrastructure-knee-jerk-solutions-leave-mumbais-lifeline-without-a-spine-part-2/57233.html








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kumawatnk66
SEFI Member
SEFI Member


Joined: 20 Mar 2011
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Thu May 23, 2019 3:30 pm    Post subject: Infrastructure woes and our woeful response Reply with quote

Excellent

On Thu, May 23, 2019, 19:12 alpa_sheth <forum@sefindia.org (forum@sefindia.org)> wrote:

Quote:
            Dear All:

Here are links to a 2 part article I wrote on infrastructure
challenges in a magazine. It has the potential to generate a hot
debate!

Mumbai's Crumbling Infrastructure: Are We Burning Our Bridges Before
Crossing Them? -Part 1

https://www.moneylife.in/article/mumbais-crumbling-infrastructure-are-we-burning-our-bridges-before-crossing-them-part-1/57227.html

Mumbai's Crumbling Infrastructure: Knee-Jerk Solutions Leave Mumbai's
Lifeline Without a Spine- Part 2

https://www.moneylife.in/article/mumbais-crumbling-infrastructure-knee-jerk-solutions-leave-mumbais-lifeline-without-a-spine-part-2/57233.html

For those who would like to read in single page format, here it is

Infrastructure Woes And Our Woeful Response

Alpa Sheth

The most memorable character for me in 'Alice's Adventures in
Wonderland' was the whimsical ruler, the Queen of Hearts. Her
much-loved phrase which she would repeat ad nauseam was "Off with his
head!" / "Off with their heads!". I was reminded of her when I read in
the morning news report of May 12 2019 that, based on an IIT Bombay
report, the Western Railway had ordered another bridge to be
demolished, this time a foot over bridge (FOB) at the busy Dadar
station. The alacrity with which this decision has been taken
demonstrates extreme nervousness on part of the railways
administration post the partial collapse of the FOB at Chhatrapati
Shivaji Terminus (CST) on March 14, 2019 and its reluctance to take a
more considered line of action, including a peer review. I wonder if
the possible fallout of this decree to demolish the Dadar FOB has been
adequately examined, because while the memory of the CST FOB collapse
is still fresh in the minds of the state apparatus, it appears that
the stampede of September 29 2017 in which 23 people lost their lives
has vanished from our collective memory. The demolition of this wide
overbridge at Dadar has the potential to cause chaos in the event of
two trains arriving at a platform in quick succession as the other
parallel bridges are challenged by bottlenecks caused by narrow
landings. I would be sceptical about a disaster scenario simulation
and testing having been carried out before such a far-reaching
decision was taken. And there is certainly no regard to the
inconvenience likely to be suffered by commuters, harried as they
already are by the simultaneous construction of the metro line, road
repairs and road excavations to lay numerous pipes and cables. The
city has not yet recovered from IIT Bombay's earlier edict to demolish
the Delisle bridge at Parel and continues to reel from the loss of
millions of rupees due to perennial traffic snarls at Parel, arguably
Mumbai's new financial hub.

It would be fair to ask what exactly constitutes an "IIT" report, for
it to be taken as the holy bible by the administration. For the
government, an IIT is a magic wand-wielding institute, a one-stop
solution for all the government's woes when it does not know what to
do with a dilapidated building in the monsoon or is facing a PIL on
account of its stock of poorly maintained infrastructure- bridges,
hospitals, schools, colleges or when it wants to draft the building
codes for the country (a look at the code committees of the Bureau of
Indian Standards would be illuminating) or for vetting new
construction. (Many cities in the country have made being a faculty
member of an IIT a very lucrative affair by mandating that all
buildings within their jurisdiction exceeding stipulated height or
size must necessarily be vetted by an IIT or equivalent). IITs can at
times churn out reports with astonishing speed, much to the delight of
the government. Imagine, a faculty member of an IIT Bombay can be
tasked with study and submission of status report of 447 bridges
across Mumbai within six months. Unsurprisingly, we have two bridges
in the commercial capital of the second most populous country
demolished on the directions of an IIT Bombay report. When in doubt,
as the queen says, "Off with his head!"

Having been a Visiting Professor at one of the older IITs for three
years and worked for over two decades with numerous IIT professors, I
have seen firsthand that IIT reports are not that of the institute but
of an individual faculty member. It is not inconceivable to get
completely opposing reports for a structure from different faculty
members of the same IIT. That, an IIT professor once proudly said to
me, speaks well of the independent and fearless mindset of the IIT
professor. While that may be true, in some areas, especially in
matters of physics and mechanics, one would wish that an addition of
two plus two would unfailingly yield the same result of four,
especially when the stakes are high. There is nothing "institutional"
about reports from Indian Institutes of Technology, unlike the
institutional mechanisms that are followed in larger engineering
organisations- government or private. In such organisations, a
well-defined system exists in terms of supervision, oversight and
signoff at many levels. There is room for discussion and debate and
the final report that is released has usually passed multiple reviews
which the organisation has to take full ownership of. Not so in an IIT
project. The work is done by the individual faculty member and is
seldom subject to review (unless expressly stated by client) by a
second faculty member. Hence the report of an IIT is oftentimes quite
simply the opinion of a single IIT professor. More importantly, a
professional organisation (public or private) is legally liable for
the design or report. But IITs do not feel the need to stand up to
public scrutiny. Here's what is put up by IIT Bhubaneshwar on its website.
"The Institute undertakes to carry out the project as conscientiously
as conditions allow, but accepts no economic responsibility should the
work not lead to expected results. The Institute accepts the project
on condition that the Client renounces all right to claim damages for
losses sustained directly or indirectly in consequence of the work
done by the Institute." Such a disclaimer should be sufficient for any
client to scurry for cover. And yet for project after project, the
government will turn exclusively to the IITs for advice on new
projects, disaster management, health of public infrastructure and
much else.

Whatever happened to the Railways cadre of engineers, the IRSE,
considered to be one of the oldest and most elite of all Indian
engineering cadres that manages the department of civil engineering in
the Indian Railways? It is a shame that the Indian railways which had
one of the most comprehensive systems for inspection and maintenance
(the granular "Indian Railways Way and Works Manual" was first
published in 1967 and has seen numerous upgrades along the way) has
capitulated to the downward spiral in our institutions and has now
subcontracted its duties of inspection and audit to small time
consultants or one-man armies of the IITs. What does the railways have
to say for itself when one of its own bridges (Dadar FOB) constructed
in 1993 and which has barely reached midlife, is now deemed to be so
heavily corroded as to be unfit to carry intended loads?

It is unusual to demolish bridges which are lifelines of a city
without arranging an alternate travel path. New replacement bridges
for the Bay bridge between Oakland and San Francisco, California, or
the Tappan Zee bridge in New York or even the Vashi bridge in Mumbai
were commissioned before the old bridge was demolished. It is
astounding to any structural engineer as to why a steel bridge which
is relatively much simpler to retrofit could not have been
strengthened adequately for it to last until a new bridge was built
and traffic shifted to it before commencing its demolition. It is also
a sad statement on another of Mumbai's institutions, the Heritage
committee of Mumbai which did not lean in and protect an important
heritage structure of Mumbai. DeLisle bridge was a steel bridge
fabricated in England and shipped piece by piece to Mumbai in 1918.
And it is a damning statement on the apathy of Mumbai's structural
engineers that they did not intervene and imagine an innovative
retrofit for the bridge.

We need to reflect if as a society we have even a modicum of a
scientific temperament left in us. Following the partial collapse of
the floor slab system of the foot over bridge at the Chhatrapati
Shivaji Terminus railway station, the municipal corporation overnight
dismantled the main girders of the bridge which were in perfectly good
condition, behaving like bumbling police in detective films who
mindlessly destroy or contaminate all evidence at the scene of the
crime. So we have an inquiry based on an absent bridge and absent
files (the drawings file of the bridge has gone missing). The hapless
auditor of the bridge was a company started by a professor of one of
the oldest government engineering colleges in Mumbai. So at one end we
have implementation of a non-peer-reviewed decision to demolish the
DeLisle bridge and at the other end a dangerous safety affirmation of
a seriously compromised foot overbridge at CSMT.

We need to have more systems and processes in place. Atul Gawande in
his book "Checklist" sings paeans to the detailed system of checklists
prevalent in the construction industry. If only he knew the reality in
India. It serves no one, least of all the financial capital of India
to use IITs or some favoured consultant(s) as a fig leaf to rubber
stamp and whitewash systemic problems in infrastructure. Crumbling
infrastructure is a global problem but nowhere is it treated with such
nonchalance as in India. It is not necessary for the municipal
corporation or the railways to get into defensive mode after each
failure. And it is self-defeating to see every failure as an occasion
to guillotine some municipal engineer or use a structural consultant
as scapegoat. It would serve the municipal corporation better if it
could get into a proper enquiry mode to understand causes of failure
and then create a road map for avoiding similar situations in the
future. Conversely, every time we have a bridge deemed unfit for use
by a consultant, we need to have a committee review this and see the
cost-benefit ratio to carry out repairs to extend its life until a
replacement bridge is in place rather than simply demolishing it
without a Plan B in place. The culture of cronyism in selection of
consultants and contractors needs to be done away with, if we have the
intention of improving the infrastructure of the city.

And pray, what would it take for the railways to shake the dust off
its own maintenance manuals and regain its lost glory of excellence in
engineering?

****************

regards,

Alpa Sheth
links

https://www.moneylife.in/article/mumbais-crumbling-infrastructure-are-we-burning-our-bridges-before-crossing-them-part-1/57227.html

https://www.moneylife.in/article/mumbais-crumbling-infrastructure-knee-jerk-solutions-leave-mumbais-lifeline-without-a-spine-part-2/57233.html
     



     



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VPandya
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Joined: 09 Nov 2009
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Location: Ahmedabad

PostPosted: Fri May 24, 2019 3:47 am    Post subject: In USA we have a same problem , but we go to specility Falure Ivesting Firms . Reply with quote

Dear Er.  Alpaji  Sheth ,

In USA we have a same problem , but we go to  specialty Failure Investigating  Firms to find cause and solution or  fix , not some well known Institute College professor.  Question is  HOW MANY YEARS OF ACTUAL BRDGE DESIGN EXPERIENCE THIS PROFSSOR HAS ?  HOW MANY BRIDGES THIS PROFESSOR HAS DESIGNED AND ARE STILL FUNCTIONING  WITHOUT  A PROBLEM ?  WE in USA go to well known firms called  FORENSIC  ENGINEERING FIRMS WHO SPECIALIZE  IN BRIDGE  FAILURE INVESTIGATION .  

Regards.

Vasudeo Pandya  P.E.
Structural Engineer

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From my post dated 1st April 2019 :  COPY :

Latest from ASCE  SMART BRIEF .  1, April 2019 :

Maintenance/Retrofit of old Bridges :


47,000 Bridges Nationwide Are Structurally Deficient, ARTBA Analysis Finds.

Iowa, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma have the dubious distinction of leading the country in states with the highest number of bridges deemed structurally deficient, according to a recent analysis by the group that represents road builders.

In Iowa, there are 4,675 structurally deficient bridges, which amounts to nearly 20% of the state’s bridges, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association determined in a recent review of federal data.


Web-Link :

Transport Topics (3/31)


ISSUE  IS  PUBIC  SAFETY  AND  US  STRUCTURAL ENGINEERS .  THOUSANDS  OF PEOPLE  ARE DRIVING  THEIR CARS  ON THESE  STRUCTURALLY   DEFICIENT  BRIDGES .

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Last edited by VPandya on Fri May 31, 2019 2:56 am; edited 2 times in total
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epiconsthane
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Joined: 10 Jun 2008
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Fri May 24, 2019 5:12 am    Post subject: Infrastructure woes and our woeful response Reply with quote

Well said Madam….let us hope the better sense prevails…

REGARDS

A S Parulekar

From: prasadam_iitm [mailto:forum@sefindia.org]
Sent: Friday, May 24, 2019 8:37 AM
To: general@sefindia.org
Subject: [SEFI] Re: Infrastructure woes and our woeful response



Dear Alpa,

Greeting Someone! I share your anguish! Let us hope some saner thinking comes about after reading your article.


With regards


A Meher Prasad

Sent from my iPad

On 23-May-2019, at 7:12 PM, alpa_sheth forum@sefindia.org (forum@sefindia.org))> wrote:


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