Six railway bridge mishaps in two years – three of them resulting in deaths – have enraged Mumbai about the state of its civic infrastructure On Friday, the despair and fury over administrative negligence reverberated on social media.
On Thursday evening at around 7.30 during rush house, 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.
Thursday’s mishap came 18 months after a stampede at the overcrowded and narrow foot-over-bridge at Parel’s Prabhadevi Station killed 23 people. Then on July 3 last year, a large portion of a bridge connecting the East and West parts of the Andheri suburb collapsed at the Andheri station. A woman injured in the accident died four days later.
On social media, there was all-round condemnation for the administrative failure to maintain the city’s crumbling infrastructure. Maharashtra is ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, while the civic body, the richest in the country, is controlled by its ally, the Shiv Sena. Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, also of the BJP, was also at the receiving end of anger, amid calls from the Congress for his resignation.
The much vaunted “Spirit of Mumbai”, the belief in the city’s strength to soldier on despite daily hardships and major catastrophes such as riots and terror attacks also came under criticism.
Can the government solve the problem by renaming the bridge, asked comedian Atul Khatri, invoking the BJP’s Hindutva renaming spree as part of which, among other things, Mughal Sarai railway station became Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya junction and Allahabad became Prayagraj.
BJP spokesperson Sanju Verma’s remarks to the Times Now news channel sparked another wave of fury on Twitter. Speaking to journalist Navika Kumar, Verma described the incident as a “natural calamity” rather than an instance of governance deficit and said that “a large part of the blame was on pedestrians”.
At least the BJP hasn’t blamed Jawaharlal Nehru yet, pointed out YouTuber Dhruv Rathee, in a reference to the party’s penchant for holding the country’s first prime minister responsible for contemporary India’s ills.
Or perhaps we could blame Isaac Newton for his theory of gravity, one Twitter user suggested.