Mumbai bridge collapse exposes negligence of civic authorities

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In one of the most shocking exposure highlighting the callousness of civic authorities, a portion of the footbridge outside the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) crashed on March 15, 2019, which had been declared ‘fit’ in the structural audit just six months back.

Six persons were killed and 32 others injured in incident. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis ordered a high-level inquiry even as civic authorities ordered demolition of the remaining structure. The bridge was constructed in 1980.

Fadnavis said his government is finding out who is responsible for this audit, and strict action will be taken against the concerned authority responsible for the negligence. Meanwhile, an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to the injured was announced, while the preliminary inquiry report is expected to come soon.

In Mumbai, the said bridge is often referred to as the ‘Kasab Bridge’. The footbridge connects the suburban and harbour line platforms of Central Railway with a narrow BT Lane exiting to the historic Azad Maidan. This was the bridge the Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab and his fidayeen partner Ismail Khan climbed to go to the Madam Cama & Albless Hospital after killing 58 people in the CSMT on the night of November 26, 2008.

After killing five persons in the vicinity of the hospital, Kasab and Khan hijacked a vehicle and proceeded towards the VVIP Malabar Hill area for further attacks. Their victims at the hospital complex included some of the finest police officers of the city, including then ATS chief Hemant Karkare.

The point to ponder, the said bridge is just about 50 metre from Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC) Building, one of the richest Municipal in the nation, and Railways Authorities are shifting blames on each other. The aggrieved public and the family members of the victims demanded that the top Brass, including the Prime Minister, need to take responsibility. This negligence is equivalent to murder.

A brother of one of the victims informed the media that the ex-gratia cannot replace the life of his dead sister, and other survivors stated that it is really frightening that every day when one goes to work, they are not sure if they will return back home or fall victim on the way, asking where is the security?

In the case of Meghalaya, the Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA-II) government headed by Dr Mukul Manda Sangma after the earthquake had also ordered an audit of all government buildings, hospitals and educational institutions. The report is yet to be made public, while the mushrooming of vendors and stalls around such government buildings, hospitals and educational institutions have further exposed the life of the pedestrian in the Seismic Zone V state to danger with such unplanned infrastructural development.

In Meghalaya, every free location is occupied by stalls, where fresh vegetables to fishes, meat to garments, footwear to house-hold utilities are sold. Of course the Municipality Board in the city does conduct eviction drive from time to time, but the same stalls spring back up the moment the authorities disappear from the location.

The incumbent government of Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) led by National People’s Party (NPP) headed by Conrad Kongkal Sangma should seek the audit report at the earliest and take necessary action to free the lanes and bye-lanes in the city to avoid such man-made disaster due to negligence which is equivalent to murder. Wake up and prevent such disaster before it is too late.