mid-day editorial: Mumbai needs military precision in everything
The railways seem to have finally woken up to the very real rage of the people that has been on simmer for years and that went on the boil on September 29, when 23 people lost their lives in an infinitely avoidable stampede on the narrow Elphinstone Road foot overbridge. Uncharacteristically eating humble pie, the railways have sought the help of the army to build the Elphinstone Road FOB, as well as two others that see very high footfall in the city. This is the first time ever that the army has been roped in for civil work.
Investigation into the tragedy had revealed that a revamp of the bridge had been mooted back in 2015. Letters going back and forth between Shiv Sena MP from south Mumbai, Arvind Sawant, who had demanded a complete overhaul of the station, and the railways ministry, elicited a cryptic response from the latter. The then railways minister, Suresh Prabhu, sent a letter back to Sawant saying the request was ‘under our positive consideration’. Officialese that could be translated as ‘we don’t really care how urgent the need for a revamp is’.
The bridge had been built by the British to handle the mill worker populace in the Parel and Lower Parel areas, not the teeming lakhs who use it today to get to the glass office buildings that have replaced the mills. While the railways have said that the army has been roped in as the bridge would need ‘military precision’ in its rebuilding, it has, without saying it, agreed that left to its interminable tendering processes, the new bridge may not even have seen the light of day.
We hope the rest of Mumbai’s powers that be wake up to the fact that ‘military precision’ is required in all areas of the city’s rebuilding and revamping process. Maybe then it won’t take decades for badly needed amenities to see fruition.