View: Whoever certified Mumbai bridge as safe should be jailed pending judicial inquiry

Should the people interpret frequent collapses of FOBs in Mumbai as symbolic of the collapsing administration in Mumbai and Maharashtra?

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Foot over bridge collapses outside Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) on Thursday evening.
Even while the death-toll is climbing following the collapse during peak hour of the central slab of a 35-foot high foot over bridge (FOB) enabling Mumbaikars to access the suburban train-network of the CSMT (Chhatrapati Sivaji Maharaj Terminus), the Mumbai police should immediately file an FIR (first information report) for criminal negligence against those who certified that that particular FOB was safe and arrest them.

Unlike 18 months ago when the Elphinstone FOB collapsed and 22 people died and all that happened was a departmental inquiry, this time there should be a judicial inquiry into all aspects, including who appointed the auditor who certified that only minor repairs were needed on the FOB linking BT lane with Platform Number One of the CSMT.

A time-bound judicial inquiry would establish responsibility and accountability for the latest FOB collapse which led to five deaths (within the first two hours itself, with the number of fatalities expected to go up) out of 45 people being hospitalized, many of them critically.


What is even more ironic is that the latest March 14 collapse of the FOB at 7.30 pm in the evening happened just within 50 metres of the headquarters of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the biggest civic body in Asia, which is being run by the Shiv Sena after the last local elections. The BMC's annual budget is five times more than many state governments in India.

Quick to arrive at the spot after the FOB collapse was Maharashtra minister Vinod Tawde who told news persons that he was rushing to the hospital where the injured had been admitted and that an inquiry would be conducted by the Railways and the BMC.

Which is as absurd as asking those responsible for criminal negligence or worse to conduct an inquiry into their own lapses. Maybe Mr Tawde, who belongs to the BJP, did not want to embarrass his coalition partner, the Shiv Sena, which runs the BMC.

What is needed is a time-bound judicial inquiry by a Bombay High Court judge which will not only fix accountability but set up a system to ensure that FOBs do not keep collapsing in the heart of the CBD (central business district) of India's commercial capital.
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Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis announced compensation of Rs five lakhs for each person killed and Rs 50,000 for each person injured. The CM also announced that an inquiry would be set up into all aspects of the latest collapse, including how a safety audit had recommended that only minor repairs were needed on that particular FOB.

Should the people interpret frequent collapses of FOBs in Mumbai as symbolic of the collapsing administration in Mumbai and Maharashtra? Maybe Mr Fadnavis should also instruct his fellow ministers to keep using Mumbai's FOBs at least once a day so as to, at the least, ensure that the BMC officials responsible for FOB maintenance take their jobs more seriously.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.
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