ix railway bridge accidents in two years – three of them resulting in deaths – have angered Mumbai about the state of its civic structure; the misery and fury over administrative negligence echoed on the social media. A portion of a foot overbridge at the city’s busy Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus railway station collapsed killing six and injuring more than 30. The bridge was three decades old and had reportedly been declared fit for use in an audit carried out by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation just six months ago. After the collapse, a blame game has begun between the Railways and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, with each claiming the other was responsible for maintaining the bridge.
Who should be blamed, the Government agencies, the contractors or the BMC? Accidents are taking place, people are dying, the PM is expanding his vocal cords and screaming about development and smart cities, bullet trains, and metro trains but we do not have properly audited bridges in the city. No one has ever faced lawsuits over the collapse of these bridges. Moreover, any legal liability will depend on the results of ongoing investigations into the causes of the collapse and it’s still too early to know who, if anyone, might be legally responsible for the disaster! The investigators will need to find out exactly what caused the collapse, if it could have been prevented, and who may have known that the bridge could be dangerous. There has to be a thorough investigation to find out who’s at fault. The BMC has primary responsibility for inspecting and maintaining the bridge, but their audits have announced that the bridges are safe to commute and they fell in pieces. However, they may not have to answer to their approach and corruptions. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis sought a preliminary inquiry into the collapse while this is not the first bridge that collapsed and inquiry is set! What happened to the previous bridges that collapsed and the inquiry conducted? If those inquiries and audits were done in time, perhaps such accidents could have been avoided.
Even earlier, the section of the Gokhale Bridge at the Andheri station in Mumbai collapsed following hours of unabated rain. The collapse of the bridge on the SV Road in the city, which connects Andheri East and Andheri West station, left at least five people injured. One of the injured, a woman named Asmita Katkar (35), succumbed to her injuries four days later at Mumbai’s RN Cooper Municipal General Hospital. A probe by the Commissioner of Railway Safety termed six Western Railway officials and the BMC as responsible for the incident but we can see that none of them are booked or punished for negligence.
October 15, 2017: One person sustained injuries after stairs of a foot-over bridge near Charni Road station in Mumbai crumbled. September 29, 2017: At least 23 people were killed and 35 others were injured after a stampede broke out at the sub-urban Elphinstone Road railway station pedestrian bridge. The incident took place between the Parel railway station and Elphinstone Road railway station.
A probe panel, headed by Western Railway Chief Security Officer, in its report to Western Railway General Manager Anil Kumar, said that the incident happened because of heavy rain, but none was blamed. How can rains collapse any structure?
December 13, 2015: Nine people were injured when a bridge collapsed in the suburban Malad area of Mumbai. The bridge connected Evershine Nagar in Malad to Malvani. February 7, 2013: Three people were killed and six were injured after a portion of an under-construction Sahar elevated corridor in Andheri East near Mumbai international airport caved in. Police had registered a case of death due to negligence and of grievous hurt against officials of Larsen & Toubro. September 4, 2012: One person died and 11 others were injured when an under-construction Mumbai Metro Rail bridge – part of the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Corridor – collapsed. Maharashtra accounted for the second-highest number of deaths (4,237) due to structural collapses between 2001 and 2015, according to the National Crime Records Bureau’s 2016 report. In total, at least 38,363 people lost their lives in as many as 37,514 incidents of the collapse of various structures during this period across the country. The types of structural collapses that the data records include: bridges, commercial buildings, dams, residential buildings, and others. As per the reports as many as 1,217 people died in incidents of bridge collapses throughout the country in these 15 years. The governments came and gone, political parties changed in power, let it be BJP or Congress, they are the common public who lost their lives and politicians lost their credibility by blaming each other. The infrastructure especially these overhead bridges are so old and smutty and as the crowd in Mumbai is growing day by the day, I fear that this will keep on happening and the poor Mumbaikars have no other option but to commute. Every such act of negligence by the government and civic authorities should be counted as state-sponsored murder of its citizens. Such incidents make one feel so angry and helpless! We use the local trains and these stations daily and it’s impossible now to not feel paranoid.
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