While the world battles COVID-19, at Marine Drive, a war brews over FOB work
Tussle over credit between politicos even as Marine Lines bridge completion is pushed back over lockdown
A forced downtime due to the Coronavirus has not stopped two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) representatives from engaging in a verbal duel. Both had put up posters near the Marine Drive claiming credit for expediting repairs to the Foot Over Bridge (FOB) linking Marine Lines station's Metro side to the University Sports Stadium side and Marine Drive.
Colaba MLA Rahul Narwekar and BJP's Raj Purohit have begun a battle of banners in the SoBo area. Narwekar's posters read: Because of Rahul Narwekar's efforts, work on the foot over bridge (FOB) near Hindi Vidya Bhavan School is proceeding in a smooth manner. The bridge is expected to open on April 15. A big picture of Narwekar accompanies the text on the banner.
"The FOB was moving towards completion and we had April 15 as the date for its opening. The Coronavirus crisis has pushed that back," Narwekar said, adding, "I had a series of meetings with the Railways and the BMC, as there was lack of coordination between both these agencies. Things picked up post that. The completion will ease life for people who had to take a circuitous route to get to the other side and for school students too."
The bridge is nearing completion. PIC/Atul Kamble
Asked about rival banners where Raj K Purohit has claimed he is responsible for work on the FOB, Narwekar retorted, "What can I say? That is politics. The MLA who was here for 11 months earlier should have concentrated on this work," he said.
Purohit's poster began with a big 'Thank You' and a picture of him with the words: "Raj K Purohitji (Ex-Cabinet Minister of Maharashtra) for a leading role in expediting construction of Flyover Bridge."
"People are irked because now, there is somebody else trying to take credit when I have done the work. In fact, I have been associated with the issue right from 2017, when the school on the Marine Lines Metro side told me that the bridge seemed dangerous. I had meetings with Railways Minister Piyush Goyal after work began last year. I have a slew of correspondence, pictures, records of meetings all pushing for the work to be completed."
"I am hurt that Narwekar is trying to take credit. He must have the courtesy to call me and say, "Come on, let us take a round of this infra together. Instead, I saw there was an attempt to gain publicity since work was nearing completion before the city came to a standstill. I can show you all the letters I have, attesting to my proactive involvement in getting work done," Purohit added.
'Only wanted work completed'
Residents say that there are fewer posters of late but they were very visible earlier. "It is not about credit, we just wanted the work finished, which had anyway stretched out for long, even before the lockdown," said Marine Drive resident Mayoor Bhatia.
The civic body had after inspection, shut this bridge in April last year after an FOB had crashed near CSMT in March 2019, triggering outcries and inspections for bridge safety.
Month last year the FoB was shut to the public
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