CST footover bridge collapse in Mumbai: Will those responsible please stand up?

Are regular lives of any value to Mumbai's authorities? Is there to be no accountability for the BMC and other bodies charged with the upkeep of Maximum City's crumbling infrastructure?

 |  3-minute read |   14-03-2019
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Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), one of Mumbai's busiest train stations — and the biggest one, in terms of sheer area — is swamped with cops, survivors and rescue workers as we speak. A foot overbridge, connecting the north end of platform no 1 with BT Road, has reportedly collapsed, leaving several injured. 

Twitter is abuzz with pictures and videos from the spot, with citizens sharing glimpses of the gruesome sight, as well as highlighting the plight of regular commuters.

The pictures will both scare you — and make you angry. 

According to some eye-witness accounts, a local and a regular fruit seller died on the spot as the bridge over them collapsed, along with two women, the injured as of now adding up to roughly 23. Friends in offices situated just alongside the bridge report that the "loud thud" shook their floor as the bridge collaped. 

Just over a year ago, another train station — the Parel-Elphinstone station, again, a rather important one — had to bear the brunt of a stampede. So narrow was the bridge at the station that is a cross-point between Central and Western lines that a few extra people on a day of Navaratri and a sudden bout of a rain shower was enough to wreak havoc. 

The death toll steadily rose — with severely injured survivors being recovered from piles of bodies. 

That the bridge was in dire need of maintenance, or better still, upgradation, was allegedly reported to the authorities several times — but, as always, these reports fell on deaf ears. 

Less than a year ago, the East-West bridge over the Andheri station had similarly collapsed, bringing both the Western line trains underneath the bridge and the crazy East-West Andheri traffic to a standstill. Casualties, deaths, loss of properties just became numbers to be flashed on official reports — soon forgotten. 

There is the 'spirit of Mumbai' that everyone remembers at times like these.

Yes, Mumbai doesn't stop. But can that be an excuse for the authorities? Should that be used to justify this criminally lax behaviour? Mumbai, statistically speaking, has the highest number of regular commuters, especially those who are tearing through the length and breadth of the city in those stuffy, yet life-saving local trains. Are their lives of no value really? 

It is important to note that this particular accident at CST also happened during peak office rush hour — anyone who's ever been there knows how crowded that place can get on a regular basis. And it has been that way for decades. 

Why were there no preventive measures taken to upgrade and maintain the infrastructure of this ever-growing city?

With less than two months left for the Lok Sabha elections, the amount of money that will be pumped into election campaigning — whichever party it may be — is insane. If only a quarter of that money was spent — accountably, with clear records of exactly where each paisa of our hard-earned tax money goes — in bettering the city of Mumbai, making it safer and more equipped to handle the constantly growing urban population in the city of dreams, a nightmarish accident like this could have been avoided. 

But the question is finally this as well: If this is what Mumbai — the financial capital of the nation, perhaps the busiest city, with unarguably the maximum number of immigrant settlers and one of the most prosperous administrations — looks like tonight, what chance do smaller cities and towns stand? 

Also read: General Elections 2019: Even after Balakot, are major BJP states not joining General Elections, wary of an uncertain mood?


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