The Opposition on Friday sharpened its attack on the Shiv Sena and BJP, with NCP president Sharad Pawar demanding a “white paper” on the health of all the bridges in Mumbai. State Congress president Ashok Chavan, meanwhile, said the Sena-led Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had become a “hot bed for corruption” and demanded that the Mayor and Civic Commissioner be sacked immediately.
Claiming that the foot overbridge collapse raised “worrying questions over the state of infrastructure” in the city, the NCP chief on Friday produced a letter from the railways, dated November 2015, which showed the department had requested the BMC to repair the damaged portions of the bridge that year.
In 2016, following a major bridge collapse on the outskirts of Mumbai, the BMC had appointed contractors to audit the health of all the 314 bridges, subways and skywalks in the megapolis. Mired with delays, the audit exercise was completed in September 2018.
The Mumbai CSMT bridge, which collapsed Thursday, was rated as “fit to use” and was placed in the “minor repairs” category during this audit, which the Opposition said raised serious question over the credibility of the exercise itself.
The audit had found only 14 bridge structures, of the total 314, “unfit to use” and recommended them to be demolished and reconstructed. Major repairs were recommended for 47 others, while only minor repairs were suggested in the case of another 176. The remaining 77 bridges were declared to be “in sound condition”.
NCP state president Jayant Patil, who visited the injured persons, said this was perhaps the “first time I have come across a case, which shows that there can be corruption and irregularities in audit work too.”
Taking a dig at Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, Patil said, “He does not seem to care about the city’s issues. He is more interested in wresting power.” The Sena chief on Friday addressed a joint rally with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in Amravati ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
Chavan, who met the victims on Friday, said: “Mumbai has become prone to state- and civic body-sponsored accidents. The lax and corrupt Shiv Sena and BJP rule is making it difficult for citizens to live. Just as innocent lives are claimed, there isn’t any accountability at all.”
State Congress chief said, “If the Shiv Sena and the BJP have any shame left, they should sack the Mayor and the civic commissioner immediately.”
Targeting the chief minister he said: “While innocent lives were lost during a series of recent accidents — the Elphinstone railway station stampede (Sept, 2017), the Kamala mills fire (December, 2017), the Gokhale bridge collapse (July, 2018) and now the CSMT bridge collapse — the CM’s has issued the same standard initial reaction, which has been followed with inaction. The CM’s assurances are empty, meaningless and have no conviction.”