MUMBAI: A blame game has begun with the Opposition demanding the resignation of Union Rail Minister Piyush Goyal and pressing murder charges against guilty officials after a section of a foot overbridge (FoB) collapsed outside the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) railway station in Mumbai on Thursday leaving at least six people dead and 33 injured.
The deadly incident took place around 7:30 PM when there was a lot of rush on the overbridge. The incident happened nearly 8 months after a portion of the foot overbridge collapsed on the railway tracks near Andheri station.
The bridge, which connected the area near the Times of India building with the iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus railway station, was commonly called 'Kasab bridge' as the 26/11 Mumbai attack terrorist passed through it during the strike.
While Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the family of the deceased and ordered a high-level committee to probe the circumstances under which the 40-year-old overbridge collapsed, the opposition parties are not satisfied with the government action.
The Opposition leaders have demanded the government to murder charges against the guilty officers and strictest possible action them.
''If the government wants to send a message to the common Mumbaikars that this won't happen again then they should immediately lodge an FIR under IPC Section 302 which amounts to murder, against the concerned officers and auditors,'' Milind Deora, Congress on Mumbai foot overbridge collapse.
Milind Deora, Congress on Mumbai foot over bridge collapse: If the govt wants to send a message to the common Mumbaikars that this won't happen again then they should immediately lodge an FIR under IPC Section 302 which amounts to murder, against the concerned officers & auditors pic.twitter.com/SEjINi4l8T
— ANI (@ANI) March 14, 2019
"Mumbaikars feel very unsafe in the city, considering the frequent incidents of bridge collapses," the former MP said.
"I am not politicising the issue, but hollow promises are not going to serve the people anyway. This is a failure of the government and the system," he added.
Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam tweeted, ''FOB collapse tragedy at #CSTMumbai is nothing but negligence on the part of #BMC and Railways. Lack of coordination between these 2 agencies has put lot of bridges in danger in Mumbai which is costing the lives of Mumbaikars.''
FOB collapse tragedy at #CSTMumbai is nothing but negligence on the part of #BMC and Railways. Lack of coordination between these 2 agencies has put lot of bridges in danger in Mumbai which is costing the lives of Mumbaikars.#cstbridgecollapse
— Sanjay Nirupam (@sanjaynirupam) March 14, 2019
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala too trained his guns at the Narendra Modi government.
Modi Govt & Mah. Govt are criminally culpable for inaction leading to repeat tragedies-:
3/7/2018-Andheri Bridge Collapse.
Rly Min’s tall claims of Audit have failed time and again.
Rly Min, Piyush Goyal must resign or be sacked.
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) March 14, 2019
Meanwhile, Akhilesh Yadav, Samajwadi Party chief and former UP chief minister, said that the CST foot overbridge collapse is yet another failure of the Narendra Modi government which talks of introducing bullet train in India.
मुंबई में पुल गिरने से हताहत हुए लोगों के प्रति हार्दिक संवेदना.
मुंबई में पुल गिरने की बड़ी दुर्घटनाएं लगातार हो रहीं हैं. ये बुलेट ट्रेन वाली सरकार की नाकामी है, वो पुलों के सेफ़्टी ऑडिट को गंभीरता से नहीं ले रही है. शायद भाजपा के लिए आम जनता की ज़िंदगी का कोई मोल नहीं है.
— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) March 14, 2019
According to the BMC Disaster Control, “The incident took place as the bridge was overloaded with commuters hurrying to their homes.”
The deceased were identified as Apoorva Prabhu (35), Anjana Tambe (40), Bhakti Shinde (40), Zahid Shiraj Khan (32), Tapendra Singh (28) and Mohan, the disaster management cell of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said.
Prabhu and Tambe were employees of the GT Hospital, the officials said.
A case has been registered against officials of Central Railway and the BMC in connection with the incident, the police said.
"We have registered an offence under section 304A (causing death by negligence) of the IPC at the Azad Maidan Police Station," said Manjunath Singe, spokesperson of the Mumbai Police.
Civic authorities started dismantling the remaining portion of the overbridge late Thursday night.
Additional Municipal Commissioner of the BMC, Vijay Singhal, said the remaining portion of the damaged bridge is being dismantled manually. He said action will be taken against the firm that conducted the structural audit of the bridge.
Deven Bharti, Joint Commissioner (Law & Order), said that police "will, for sure, launch an inquiry into the incident".
Expressing his profound grief over the incident, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, ''The injured persons will get Rs 50,000 each and the government will bear the cost of their treatment."
Fadnavis added that officials found responsible for the incident will be booked.
A 45-member team of the National Disaster Response Force was at the site. An eyewitness said the over-bridge was being used by pedestrians even as repair works were ongoing.
Several motorists were also under the bridge when it came down, which led to an increase in the number of injured, an official said. "We have appealed the motorists to avoid the D N Road to JJ Flyover section."
Another eyewitness said most of the victims were walking on the overbridge on their way to the CST station when it collapsed.
Lawmakers and local party leaders rushed to the spot as political blame-game ensued.
Arvind Sawant, the local Shiv Sena MP, said, "This bridge was under minor-repairing after the audit of all bridges in the city. Action will be initiated against the responsible officials."
Local BJP MLA Raj Purohit also visited the spot and demanded immediate action against the engineer who had declared the bridge as 'safe'. "He should be arrested right now. He is responsible for the entire disaster."
Local Shiv Sena corporator Sujata Sanap said she had alerted officials about the structure, but they did not act in time. "I have been pursuing the issue of this unsafe bridge for long and also wrote so many letters to officials but they were ignored."
The collapse will be jointly probed by BMC and Central Railways, said Vinod Tawde, District Guardian Minister of Mumbai.
"I have discussed the issue with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis as well as with CR General Manager D K Sharma, BMC chief Ajoy Mehta and joint police commissioner (L&W) Deven Bharti.
The railways and the BMC will jointly inquire the accident," Tawde told reporters.
In July last year, a portion of a road over-bridge had collapsed in suburban Andheri. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had then announced a joint safety audit of all 445 bridges in Mumbai.
Following the order, the railways, the BMC and IIT-Bombay had conducted a safety audit.
(With PTI inputs)