ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Bridges between Life and Death

Bridge collapses in Mumbai have revealed the fault lines in urban planning.


A bridge is meant to connect and, more precisely, is aimed at helping people across rivers, roads and obstacles to movement. In the case of Mumbai’s bridges, however, this definition seems to be standing on its head rather frequently of late. On 15 March 2019, six people were killed and 32 injured when the foot overbridge outside the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) railway station collapsed. The word “bridge” is being connected often with the words “tragedy” and “death” in media headlines. The issues around urban bridges and flyovers encompass not only those of urban planning and governance, but also political goals and citizen involvement in urban planning.

The immediate aspect that comes to mind is an ironic one: the footbridge near CSmT was constructed to prevent pedestrians from being victims of accidents whilst crossing the road below. And it was this very safety mechanism that killed so many of them. Following the collapse, the media reports detailed facts that no longer shock Indians. The structural audit done by a private firm contracted by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had given the bridge a clean chit of health a few months back. The director of this private firm of engineers, who are supposed to conduct periodic structural audits, has now been arrested. What is more absurd is that the police are said to be “investigating” whether a BMC or railway employee is “involved.” It is difficult to assume that a process that involves the safety of human lives hinges solely on the report of one structural engineer with no checks and balances. Also, would anyone dare to carelessly file a report if there is a strong accountability mechanism in place?

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Updated On : 26th Mar, 2019
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