Rajat Sharma

A tragedy that could have been averted

mumbaiIt is really difficult to believe that Indian Railways today has overbridges that were built a century ago. Overbridges and bridges that were built by the British more than a hundred years ago. There is hardly a big country in the world where such outdated overbridges and bridges exist. The Elphinstone overbridge was narrow and was being used by nearly 300,000 passengers daily who travel in Mumbai’s suburban trains. Where do we stand, even after 70 years of independence? This is a frightening picture of the reality that exists today. It is the picture that points out to the fact that the life of a common Indian has become cheap. What was the crime of these passengers? Was it a crime that they were common people? Was it their crime to travel daily in jampacked suburban trains? Was it their crime that the stairs of the overbridge were so narrow that there was hardly any space for people to pass? Was it their crime that they were going to their offices despite rains? And now, even if a new overbridge is built, these unfortunate passengers will not get back their lives. Their deaths will constantly remind others that the life of a common Indian today is cheap. Questions have been raised as to why a new overbridge was not built despite prior warnings. Railway is an important part of our economy. Railway exists in a separate world. We are often told that the number of passengers who travel daily on our trains equals the population of Australia. Today’s stampede and the two recent train derailments clearly show that Indian Railway has been misused and mismanaged for the last 70 years because of political expediency. Issues like safety and restructuring were ignored. Most of the attention of Railway Ministers was devoted to running of new trains, and train halts in the constituencies of MPs. Former Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu claims he did much work in the last three years, but these three incidents prove otherwise.

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