I woke up muzzy yesterday, uncertain if events of the previous night were real. Maybe it was all a big April Fools’ joke. Between Virat Kohli’s effusive romance with the bat (that did the Indian cricket team no good) and advertisements, I kept flitting back to news channels, hanging on to a lost hope. An under-construction flyover had collapsed in Kolkata squelching several people underneath. It was a blow so violent, the Army had to be called out; rescue operations went on all night, and perhaps still is, as I write this. News channels flashed disturbing images of mangled bodies crushed under the debris. It was a long night, and I went to sleep, troubled.
Newspapers decided to lead with the story. The 2.2-km Vivekananda flyover was contracted in the year 2008. It links Girish Park in Kolkata to Howrah. The work began in 2009 and was to be completed in 2010. It, however, missed nine deadlines. At 12.32pm on March 31, a 150m stretch of the flyover came crashing down on unwary people on the busy Rabindra Sarani-K K Tagore Street crossing.
With an FIR hovering over them, the Hyderabad-based contractor IVRCL came up with a casual and preposterous defence – “an act of God”, they said. The company later retracted their shocking statement, but in a reproachful way, pondered whether an explosion of any kind had triggered the domino.
Amidst all this, the ruling TMC and opposition CPI-M passed the buck to each other. Ahead of assembly polls, the alarming accident became a meaningless tool that political parties toyed with, for their personal vendetta. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee accused the Left Front government for having awarded the contract to IVRCL during its tenure. The CPM, meanwhile, commented saying the construction happened in the last five years when Trinamool was in power.
We do not even know the actual casualty figures; 24 dead bodies had been recovered and 70 wounded people were rescued from under the wreckage. The Army and Kolkata Police worked in tandem all night, as families of victims held on to hope and prayers. During a testing period like this, the last thing humanity needs is political bickering, power play and ludicrousness.
We do not know who is to be blamed – was it corruption that reduced people to collateral damage, or was it bad and irresponsible governance. What we do know is that human beings were mercilessly crushed like little bugs under the mammoth-but-incomplete structure. What if it was the CM’s convoy passing when the disaster happened? What if it was some big-shot political leader or a celebrity? Would they have wasted time duelling like this?
The builders, purportedly debt-ridden, have made a joke of themselves by calling the accident “an act of God”. It was a man-made disaster, misters. You made it, or in this case, did not. A flyover is supposed to withstand weight, and it succumbed under the pressure of a steel girder that was paved with concrete the night before? Is that what you are saying? Then thank goodness, we did not have vehicles on the flyover, there would have been more bodies, more blood.
This incident shows that human life has no value. That regardless of deaths, our politicians will hog the limelight to make everything revolve around them. They wash to cash in on emotions, on a tragedy? Such a shame!
We pray for Kolkata and want people to know they have our support. It is not the loss of one city, but the entire country. Nothing will bring the deceased back to life or nurse the wounded mystically, but justice will be fitting, and justice is what we want.