Friday, October 23, 2020
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City infra fragile but govt in slumber

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At least six people have died, 34 reportedly rescued alive, and the toll is likely to rise: This disaster took place when a portion of an overhead pedestrian bridge outside the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus came crushing down during the rush hour on Thursday evening. Two dead, five injured: This was led by the collapse of a part of the 40-year-old bridge (which had also cleared the railway’s safety audit just months earlier) at the Andheri station amid heavy rain in July last year. 23 dead, 35 injured and this happened after a stampede broke out on the foot overbridge that linked two of the busiest stations in Mumbai — Elphinstone Road and Parel suburban stations. While every time our government is “deeply anguished by the loss of lives” and their “thoughts are with the bereaved families”, the city with shoddy and abandoned infrastructure has witnessed three major bridge tragedies in the last one and a half years. Moreover, as the Chief Minister on Thursday informed us of safety audits being carried out in 445 foot over bridges, the administration’s promises too sounds as rubbishy as the city’s concrete skeleton. The audits are associated with some minor repairs six months ago as part of a safety audit ordered when another foot overbridge collapsed in Andheri last June. The audit of the structure by the civic authority had declared the bridge “safe”.

The headquarter of India’s Central railway zone and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Mumbai, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus experienced a horrific accident when a foot overbridge, built in 1984, that connected the CST platform 1 north end with BT Lane near Times of India building and the Anjuman-e-Islam School fell to pieces around 7.30 pm on Thursday evening — certainly the highest footfall hour in the Mumbai suburban railways’ timetable. A team of the National Disaster Relief Force, Fire Brigade, and BMC rescue teams helped with the rescue work; senior police officers were also at the spot to conduct the operations. The injured were rushed to the St. George Hospital and Sion Hospital. Police registered cases against Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Indian Railway officials charging them with culpable homicide, but no arrests yet been made. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has announced Rs 5 lakh ex gratia each to the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to the injured. He has also ordered a high-level probe. To which, a famous columnist of Mumbai Shobha day said, “Forget high-level inquiry. Hold culprits responsible. Order an audit of footbridges and bridges. Stop passing the buck. We know how corrupt the BMC is. Tell us something we don’t know.”

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Journalist Nikhil Wagle asked “Where are Shiv Sena leaders since Thursday’s bridge collapse? Sena ruled BMC for more than 25 years. They boast about being a ‘Party of Mumbaikars’. Why do they run away from admitting the blame? He further stated, “Once upon a time, honest leaders like Mrinal Gore fought for the Mumbaikars. Now, most of the leaders are selfish or extortionists”.

It took no time post the tragic incident that blame game erupted between Mumbai’s civic body Brihanmumbai Corporation and the Indian Railways. The Railway Ministry has said that the overbridge was under the control of Mumbai civic body though Sena lawmakers have denied the claim. While State Minister Vinod Tawde said that both Railways and the civic body would investigate the matter, BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta has ordered an inquiry by the civic body’s chief engineer (vigilance) into the causes that led to the deck of the FOB collapsing.

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CM Fadnavis on Friday met the victims of the bridge collapse at GT hospital and said that the faulty audit that declared the bridge safe for use will be probed. He expressed his shock regarding such mishaps that are taking place despite structural audits and ordered a high-level inquiry.

Yuva Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray told Afternoon Voice, “CSMT bridge collapse is extremely upsetting and disturbing. Although there shall not be any blame game, there will be reasons found and responsibility that will be fixed. A recent audit also apparently happened. That audit shall be revisited to examine what wasn’t mentioned or followed. At such crises, people should unite for taking out solutions without playing politics.”

Social media called for outrage against the BMC, BJP, and Shiv Sena and they took on to Twitter under the hashtag #MumbaiBridgeCollapse.

“Appalled to hear about the foot overbridge tragedy in which many people lost their lives! Praying for the speedy recovery of all those who are injured. Demand strong action against those responsible for such negligent administration which cost human lives,” told Congress Chief Ashok Chavan while speaking to our correspondent.

Rukshmani Kumari, Rajasthan-President of All India Professional’s Congress, asked, “What kind of a CM Fadnavis is, he continues his election campaign after people die in Mumbai bridge collapse. It is not only the collapse of the bridge but also the collapse of BJP in Maharashtra.

Other bridge collapses in Mumbai include:

  1. A part of the foot overbridge collapsed near Mankhurd on Sion-Panvel Highway on October 7, 2018.
  2. A portion of a foot overbridge at the Charni Road station fell on October 14, 2017.

One of the BJP’s Mumbai spokespersons Sanju Verma sparked controversy by calling the bridge collapsed incident a ’natural calamity’. She has also simply blamed the pedestrians and bad luck in the drill to defend her government. She has indeed performed the job of a spokesperson; however, her statement didn’t go well with the Mumbaikars. This is not the first time that a politician has made irresponsible comments in the times of tragedy to do away with their accountability. While some called Verma’s behaviour arrogant, thinking tanks of Mumbai demanded her immediate termination as the party spokesperson.”

 

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