I was in the vacation mode when suddenly my smart phone blinked. I swiped it open to see a TOI notification saying ’28 dead and more than 70 injured in The Flyover Collapse in Kolkata, In’. Unaware and fazed, I resorted to Google News to find out what has happened. There it was, an under construction flyover had collapsed in Kolkata.
The entire incident got me thinking. The flyover was under construction since 2009. And seven years down the line, it was still under construction? Apparently, the flyover had already missed several deadlines. Maybe, we need to reconsider the meaning and relevance of the word ‘deadline’. We would probably let it go this time as well if the incident wouldn’t have claimed around 24 lives and wouldn’t have left many more injured. Now, human life counts or doesn’t it? And the irony is, this horrific man made tragedy is ‘Act of God’, at least that’s what the builders of the flyover have to say.
Amidst the dust and debris, the big question is what led to the disaster? Who is to be blamed? Is it the sub-standard materials used? Or does it have a direct linkage to corruption? How can we disregard carelessness on part of the builders? Or could it be some foul play?
India is acclaimed for its ancient architecture but are modern Indian standards tarnishing its world image? There are a host of reasons why public structures tend to either collapse or have a short shelf life. The material used is substandard with builders being notorious for cutting corners. In many building collapses, the foundations have been found to be not well laid and the materials used unable to withstand either the vagaries of the weather or the sheer weight of the construction.And invariably, an element of political brinkmanship enters the picture. In the Kolkata case, political grandstanding has been heightened as the state is poll-bound. Even as rescue workers are battling to save those trapped and who might still be alive, the political blame game is afoot. All this is to detract from the task at hand which is succour to the victims in the form of compensation for the dead and injured.
The blame game would continue for months or maybe a few years. And eventually, this would become another incident and would be added to the list of ‘Flyovers that collapsed under construction’. In due course, it would fade from people’s memory, except for those who lost their near and dear ones. Every mis-happening should be treated as a learning lesson. Contracts for constructions like flyovers should contain clauses to ensure that builders stick to a timeline. This way there will be fewer cost overruns and minimal chances of wear and tear on the building materials. This is something the political class can ensure rather than engage in verbal fisticuffs after the event.