The foot overbridge connecting Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus railway station with BT lane collapsed on Thursday killing six people and injuring 31 others.
The Indian Express on Friday reported that the collapsed bridge was declared “fit for use” in a structural audit submitted just six months ago.
This is the third such tragedy which has taken place in less than two years.
This certainly raises questions on the government’s attention towards Mumbai’s crumbling infrastructure.
In July last year, part of a 40-year-old bridge at the Andheri station collapsed due to heavy rain, injuring five people.
Before that, in September 2017, a stampede broke out on a railway bridge at Elphinstone station bridge during peak office hours killing 22 people and injuring 30 others.
The Elphinstone tragedy issued an alarming and grim reminder of the state of railway mismanagement and lack of priority towards passengers’ safety, but to no avail since two other tragedies took place in less than two years of it.
During Suresh Prabhu’s stewardship that commenced in 2015, the Indian railways witnessed a staggering 346 accidents which resulted in the deaths of at least 277 individuals.
To take the issue of derailments alone, a systemic problem that plagues the railway grid. Between 2016-17, an IndiaSpend analysis of Parliament data has shown that railway accidents from the same resulted in the highest death toll (193) in nearly a decade.
And yet, by the end of Suresh Prabhu’s disappointing tenure, nearly 1.42 lakh vacancies for the position of safety officers, who could oversee and ensure that due diligence is paid towards the safety of passengers, remained empty.
The Indian Railways is one of the most inspiring yet complex projects undertaken anywhere in the world. Currently, taking a daily average, the operations transport nearly 23 million people a day, employs 1.3 million workers who work to ensure that the 19,000 trains that run each day are operational. But it is also a system that is plagued by severe infrastructure deficits, a poor safety record and the over utilisation of tracks.