There were places to go,
Things to do,
People to love,
Dreams to thrive.
Chunks of corrupted concrete destroyed it all.
31st of March, 2016 is the Black Thursday in the city calendar of Kolkata. The noon brought along with it a darkness of the biggest nightmare that the city has had in a while. The Vivekananda Flyover collapsed killing and injuring several commuters. What went wrong? Well, corruption first, to start with it all. Negligence. Inaction on the part of the authority. It recently came to light that one of the on-spot engineers had informed the KMDA office that the newly welded concrete slab was bending uncharacteristically downwards five minutes prior to the accident, rather the disaster. But the authority did not consider it to be a matter of major concern.
|Credits - NDTV|
So, wait. What?
They just assumed that a bridge-in-construction bending down was some early April-fool prank? What else? There was a flyover in construction, everybody! Not a wall to your garden. And the traffic was still on full flow beneath it. I remember being a child; my friends and I were not allowed within a 5 meter radius of even a garden-wall-in-construction in my neighborhood because the bricks could fall off and hurt us. But there was no precaution of that sort anywhere. Rather there were no precautions at all. We’ve seen examples of political ties in this matter and how the cards of corruption have played off. But I won’t go into that because corruption is far too deep-seated to just touch upon the topic.
There were major technical errors too. The workers themselves have come forward to say that inferior materials were put to use without a second thought. Local people had actually seen the nuts and bolts falling off off the planks few minutes before the collapse. MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay has accepted that he had warned the government that the plan for the project was faulty. Given that the flyover perched on the balconies of residences in a heavily populated area of North Kolkata, that is not much of a shocker.
|The highly congested nature of the flyover.|
But here is the expected flavor of speechlessness: the project was almost 60% complete and redoing the entire project after drawing another rectified plan would mean a severe drain of money in the state government’s bank account. Yes. Sure. A few hundred crore is way more important. What is the cost of the lives of the citizens? 2 lakhs for the injured, 3 lakhs for the severely injured, and 5 lakhs for the deceased.
|Trapped. Credis - DailyMail|
This was a project that went through the change in power of the Bengal legislature. So we have the inevitable blame-game. Honourable CM of West Bengal said it is the fault of the Left front, since construction of this particular flyover started back in their time. Just like Mr. J. McGlashan is to be blamed if something happened to the Howrah Bridge? Or the blame should go to Shah Jahan for the recently misplaced pinnacle of one of the minarets of Taj Mahal during its repair works.
There is the counter too, that it was this government that hurried the completion of the project for the upcoming elections resulting in the mishap. But the best is yet to arrive. K Panduranga Rao, Group Head of IVRCL, the Hyderabad based, more than once black-listed company, that was in charge of the bridge’s construction, said after the collapse, “It’s nothing but a God’s act.”
|IVRCL claimed the collapse to be an "act of God". Credits - India.com|
I’m sure even God must have been frowning down at us, wondering; “Seriously now? You’re going to throw all the dirt heaven-wards?”
A statement is going viral now. An anonymous private firm employee said to one of the popular newspapers that Kolkata is London now and that is why the bridges are falling down. It is funny, yes. But, on a serious note, we do not want London, we want to live.