You can’t leave people to die, Bombay high court raps railways and BMC after bridge collapse
The bench emphasised on the importance of joint responsibility between the civic body and the railways to ensure bridges are maintained properly.mumbai Updated: Jul 05, 2018 12:32 IST
“You cannot leave people to die,” the Bombay high court (HC) told the Railways and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Wednesday, expressing utter displeasure over Tuesday’s bridge collapse at Andheri railway station. The accident injured five people, two of them critically, disrupted suburban railway services on the western line, throught out the day.
A division bench of justices Naresh Patil and Girish Kulkarni was irked to note that Railway officials failed to apprehend the weakening of the foot overbridge.
“How can the authorities not know beforehand that the bridge is likely to fall,” said the bench. “They must know.”
The bench said on an average, nine persons die on railway tracks every day leaving commuters suffering, but nobody appears to be bothered about it.
“Who is to blame for the yesterday’s incident (bridge collapse in Andheri),” the judges said, adding that the railway officials must take the maintenance of bridges seriously.
The bench also emphasised on the importance of joint responsibility between the civic body and the railway administration to ensure that the bridges within BMC limits were properly maintained.
“It is very easy to say that it is their property,” said the bench after BMC’s lawyer Geeta Jogalekar pointed out that the foot overbridge at Andheri was railway property.
“You are also responsible for whatever happens within civic limits,” said the bench. The bench insisted that civic officials should hold meetings with the railway administration and sort out their differences.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Smita Dhruva-Chaudhari, a Congress worker from Colaba following the stampede on a narrow bridge at Elphinstone Road railway station on September 29, resulting in the death of 23 persons and injuries to 30 others.
She has urged the court to lay down guidelines for ensuring the safety of suburban commuters and to issue directions to the railway administration to undertake better crowd management, especially in view of the fact that nearly 35 lakh persons commute to and from stations within a 10km-radius of Elphinstone Road railway station.
Thane-based activist Vikrant Tawde has also filed a separate PIL seeking setting up of a judicial commission to inquire into the stampede’s causes and a direction to undertake an exercise to identify other high-risk railway stations and to give top priority to the widening of bridges and adoption of a zero-tolerance policy towards hawkers and encroachers on railway bridges.
First Published: Jul 05, 2018 12:28 IST