Army chief General Bipin Rawat on Thursday said he had directed the Indian Army to build three railway bridges in Mumbai as part of a strategy to boost the Army’s image. On Tuesday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced that soldiers will help build three foot overbridges in Mumbai, including the one at Elphinstone Road station where 23 people were killed in a stampede on September 29.
The decision taken by the Centre and the Maharashtra government was met with immense criticism.
“We often hold camps in various towns and cities on the theme of ‘Know your Army’,” Rawat told the Business Standard in an interview. “I would prefer that our citizens get to know their Army by seeing us come to their assistance with the efficiency and capability we are known for.”
The Army chief said the exercise will help in resettling soldiers after they retire. “Lateral absorption in organisations like the railways will happen if we demonstrate our discipline, capability and adherence to time deadlines,” Rawat told the newspaper.
Rawat pointed out that the Army had built the Bailey Bridge in Kerala to assist civil administration in February. He said the Army engineers had also built a bridge near Katihar in Bihar when devastating floods hit the state.
On Tuesday, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said, “Probably the first time the Army has been asked to come in to build what could otherwise be called civil work, but Elphinstone tragedy was so big.”