Kolkata had been hit by a tragic accident when a semi-constructed flyover came crashing down. Subhadrika Sen takes a look at the incident more closely and highlights the views of the youth regarding the so called ‘Act of God’
31st of March!
A normal Weekday!
People going about their business in the noon!
And then Tragedy struck at 12:15!
31st of March is deemed as the #BlackThursday in the recent turn of events where a half constructed flyover came crashing down crushing people, rickshaw, bus and more. The Vivekananda flyover was being constructed near Ganesh Talkies, Girish Park for more than seven years. According to the latest statistics around 25 people have been declared dead and more than 90 are injured and have been sent to the hospital. After an all night rescue mission involving the locals, the police, fire brigade, and five army columns; there is still uncertainty about more people being trapped underneath the large chunk of debris. Here is what a nearby CCTV camera captured, of the collapsing bridge.
The local people have been stunned at the calamity. In fact, many actually thought that it was an earthquake that made the bridge come crashing down. However, it was not an earthquake but what has been correctly deemed as a ‘man- made tragedy’. This ‘man –made tragedy’ was not uncalled for. Looking at the condition of the construction, the locals had anticipated something untoward to happen any time soon. An unfinished structure of such concrete, if left untouched for almost seven years without any supervision, would have caused some calamity one day or the other; and the day came on the 31st of March.
Aikantik Bag comments, “This mishap took place due to negligence . The construction company which took over the project used outdated parts as per the workers. Our present government is working on the beautification of Bengal and mainly Kolkata (by building small Ben ) , we want them to look into these kind of matters at first . “London chaina bachtey chai” (we don’t want London, we want to live) is the cry of normal people now.”
The construction was being looked over by the IVRCL and it was a joint venture between the government and this private sector company. When the company was asked about the tragedy a lengthy explanation was given. However, their interview agitated the public to quite an extent. Firstly because they said that it was the 60th instalment which crashed and the others were strong; after which they said it was the 70th instalment which crashed. This proves that they were not meticulous in their knowledge about they were constructing. Secondly, they had leased a local sub-contractor under political influence. This sub-contractor had no experience in this field and was not fit to take responsibility of such a huge project. Moreover, those inspecting the site after the accident commented that the materials used to build the flyover were of compromised quality. Furthermore, the IVRCL spokesperson termed the event as an ‘Act of God’ which lead to sparks of anger from the general audience.
With the state elections at the doorstep, the Chief Minister was on an election campaigning tour in the interior parts of the city. On hearing about the mishap she cancelled her tour and arrived at the spot. Soon, this tragedy took the shape of a political blame game. While the ruling party accused the Left of having started the construction but not finishing it; the audience lashed out at the ruling party that it was their responsibility to inspect the project and get it finished. These accusations and allegations took an interesting turn at the social media where the youths scrutinised the actions of the political party by putting up various posts and status updates.
Zishan Asad comments, “The government agency the CMDA (KMDA) never took a note, neither it inspected the quality of the material being used for constructing the flyover, nor did they take the pain to remodel the faulty planning which they already knew about from the day they sat in office.”
Debates, Accusations, Discussions and Social Media spats have already started questioning the responsibility, accountability and handling of the entire tragedy in the part of the government. Amidst such conditions, a vague rumour of this bridge falling due to a bomb blast is also doing the rounds. Although it has been discredited the moment it was started.
Pragati Gupta, opines, “The disaster of the collapsed flyover is really heart-wrenching and terrifying. People all over the world have been affected by this mentally, if not in person, making it more of a personal loss. The worst part of the catastrophe is that the authorities concerned are just side glancing the responsibility and shrugging it off their shoulders. Finger-pointing hasn’t yet stopped where it has reached out to tag it as an ‘act of God’, which is so lame since the whole decision to construct an over-bridge in the Ganesh Talkies area is a faulty decision. ”
As of now, the government has launched an FIR on the construction company and five of its officers have been arrested by the police. The offices at Kolkata and Hyderabad are both facing charges and the Kolkata office has been sealed. Those injured are being treated in different hospitals. The treatment also requires numerous bottles of blood for which blood camps have been set. Most of these donors are youngsters from 17-30 years.
This incident has definitely proved that the youth of Kolkata has a voice of their own and forgets all differences and comes together to help mankind in hours of need. When the tragedy took place, even before the police could bring help, the locals jumped in to save human lives.
Prantik Mitra, a resident of Kolkata writes, “The CM of west Bengal has successfully turned Kolkata into London, and that is why the bridges are falling down. Scams, poll booth rigging, campus violence and roads unsafe for women have been some of the highlights of her regime and now to add to that the city of joy floods in the tear of hundreds. What happened on 31st of March was the outcome of corporate monopoly of Syndicate which is often driven by profit motive instead of competitive efficiency. Political blame games were not off the cards for either side and amidst all they call the collapse an “Act of God”. This was not a natural calamity but the result of political callousness and poor work ethics.”
Today, after losing lives, after losing near and dear ones and after mourning the tragedy, Kolkata rises once again to direct certain questions to the administration.
- Was it negligence on their part which led to the tragedy?
- How long would it take for the political blame game to stop and actual welfare works to begin?
- Why was the half- constructed flyover left in such a crucial state at a place which attracts hundreds of commuters each day?
- Why, many from the administration do not think it wise to call for a CBI probe into the matter?
These and many other questions yet remain unanswered. To be honest, one does not know whether they would ever get answers to the above questions. But there is something that every citizen of Kolkata wants to ask the ruling party: “Is Kolkata Safe for Living Anymore? “