The Kolkata tragedy is a grim reminder how political parties try to bank on a morbid incident to gain mileage. The way things are shaping up, it’s going to be one big mud-slinging game, where we will not only have to put up with the blatant lies and accusations of political parties, but also witness how this tragedy will be used as a “brahmashtra” by legislators in the upcoming elections in West Bengal to add brownie points into their kitty.
The two-kilometre overbridge has been under construction since 2009 and has missed several deadlines for completion. However, it needed a tragedy to wake the legislators from their stupor. The Howrah Bridge, built in 1943 over the Hooghly River, is still going strong. With all the advancement of technology, these builders are having difficulty constructing a road on pillars. Such is the irony of a corrupt India.
While rescue workers worked ceaselessly to remove and cut through huge concrete slabs and mangled pieces of metal, the political storm was only getting bigger. Reminding us of the tragic reality of deep-seated corruption were the limbs of hapless victims who lied under the fallen debris.
The death toll in the mishap has risen to 26. And in a bid to look serious about its business, five employees of the Hyderabad-based construction company IVRCL have been arrested by the Kolkata Police. The FIR that was filed for the mishap included murder as one of the charges and the name of Trinamool party has been mentioned. Apparently, a Kolkata-based firm supplying construction material to the IVRCL contractor is owned by relative of a powerful Trinamool party official.
On the other hand, the flyover contractor’s statement that the collapse was an “act of a corrupt Indian God” is so bizarre. Sensing the trouble, he immediately invoked divine intervention, in a limp effort to distance himself from wrongdoing. Insurance companies worldwide also love this corrupt god. Any blame on this god removes them from any liability.
But a civil engineering firm can hardly put the blame on a divine being when it is actually lack of quality control. There is also clearly lack of guidelines for building a mammoth flyover over busy roads and not taking into consideration that traffic has to be suspended or diverted during construction.
The mad game has already begun with the arrest of the small fish, who mostly have no say in a such a big venture. May be the owners of IVRCL will never be brought to book, and the employees will be made scapegoats to save the rich and corrupt.
Also, why let the government officers who were in charge of the inspection of the bridge work roam free? Were they not responsible for quality assurance? Without their knowledge and some kind of understanding, shoddy work could not have been possible.
The iconic film Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro released in 1983, had picked up a similar theme. The socio-politico satire directed by Kundan Shah, told the story of a disastrous flyover collapse in Mumbai, caused due to immoral ethics of corrupt officials and contractors. But in a strange twist of fate, the reporters who to try to expose the scam, end up being sent to the gallows by a blind judiciary system.
Let’s hope that the Kolkata incident differs from the movie plot, and bring the perpetrators to justice for killing so many innocent lives. This time, we can’t dismiss the inherent corruption by merely stating, “Jaane bhi Do Yaaron” (Let it go, friends)…