A hundred reasons came to light when the Elphinstone cross over bridge witnessed a stampede and killed over 22 people yesterday. Some say that four trains came to a halt at different platforms and people tried to cross the bridge as soon as possible leading to a stampede, some say that there was a loud noise and people speculated that an old bridge is collapsing. It lead to a scare and people got crushed. Some blamed the short circuit and many other reasons.
The truth is that in a city where millions of people resort to local trains for commute, is it fair for our authorities to over look the maintenance work which becomes long overdue. This city will soon get it’s first bullet train but the trains which people are currently using are leading to deaths on a daily basis. Swarm of people are seen dissolving into trains when it comes to halt, the same swarm rushes out of the platform and the same number comes in every minute of the day. Is it fair for the people to wait for a miracle transport to appear or to get the present one repaired and suited to their present needs.
Starting from 2015, there had been number of tweets made by the people of Mumbai who were using the Elphinstone crossover bridge on a daily basis. They tagged the authorities, the police and the Railway minister in an attempt to be heard. They warned the management of the stampede that could happen. A bride so narrow bears the weight of hundreds of commuters everyday. Just a single bridge to get in and out of the station. Many reasons to fear the disaster but no one listened till yesterday.
Within hours of people being crushed, the Railway Minister tweeted that he has called for bids to widen the bridge. Arvind Sawant, a Sena parliamentarian, had written to Suresh Prabhu last year requesting repair work on the bridge.
In his reply in February 2016, Mr Prabhu had assured that the bridge would be extended and widened. He had also cited “paucity of finances, operational constraints or other compelling circumstances” for the inability to respond to such requests. Over a year later, no work has been done on the bridge. Mr Sawant said today: “This is not just negligence. It’s too soft a term to use. This is delinquency.”
Over crowding is one of the major issues which people of Mumbai are facing on a daily basis. Bringing in a new infrastructure is a thing of the future. The least which could be done right nor is to maintain what is already being used. If there is a scope to capacitate the current infrastructure to make sure incidents like these don’t haunt and crush precious lives.