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It Could Have Been My Father at the Majerhat Flyover

Dear CM Mamata Banerjee, I don’t want Kolkata to be the next London, I just want my city to be safe.

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It Could Have Been My Father at the Majerhat Flyover
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I received a frantic phone call at 5pm on 4 September from my mother and here’s how the conversation went:

“Your Baba is not answering the phone. He was supposed to come home for lunch from our Alipore shop but he has not yet arrived. I saw the news flash on the TV, I hope he is not...”

“Don’t say it, Ma. Wait, let me see what I can do.”

Distraught and anxious, I tried calling up my father but his phone was unreachable. After 10-15 calls went unanswered, my face had lost its colour and all that occupied my mind was the thought of my father falling victim to the Majerhat flyover collapse.

Considered to be one of the busiest flyovers in Kolkata, a part of the Majerhat flyover collapsed on the evening of Tuesday, 4 September. Several people are feared trapped under the debris.

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Tragedy Strikes a Second Time

This is not the first time that a flyover collapsed in the city of joy.

In 2016, at least 23 people were reportedly killed, while over 80 others were injured as a portion of the under-construction Vivekananda flyover collapsed in Kolkata’s Burrabazar area.

My house is situated pretty close to the Majerhat flyover.

My father owns a furniture shop in Alipore and even at the age of 50, he commutes to work everyday on his bike via the Majerhat flyover, like many others, to avoid the work-hour traffic. So thinking about the worst possible scenario for me was inevitable.

The Trinamool Congress government came to power in 2011 and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee promised “Kolkata will be the next London”. In 2016, when the Vivekananda flyover collapsed, it didn’t even take a day for the political blame game to get rolling, with the Opposition party blaming the state government for poor maintenance of public infrastructure and the ruling party defending its actions in return.

Same Old, Same Old

Cut to Tuesday, 4 September, 2018.

BJP leader Mukul Roy slammed the Mamata-led government, saying “they should take complete responsibility of the collapse”.

The state government and the chief minister are responsible for this bridge collapse. They are saying beautification of the city is on, but repair work of old constructions is not on her mind.
Mukul Roy

“Majerhat bridge collapsed. According to sources, its repairment notice was given to the authority for the last 4 years. But they didn't take it seriously. Now @MamataOfficial should answer. This is the 3rd bridge collapse in recent times,” West Bengal Congress tweeted.

While the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, “We are very worried. We are receiving information from the rescue team on ground. We want to go back as soon as possible. There are no flights in the evening, we are unable to do so.”

Our team is focused on relief and rescue work. Our priority is relief and rescue. Rest of the investigation will be done later.
Mamata Banerjee

If you compare both the scenarios of 2016 and 2018, you will see that nothing much has changed over the years. The Vivekananda flyover collapse failed to teach the government a thing or two. And while new flyovers have been constructed over the years and the state government has been busy in ‘beautifying’ the city, it has been negligent towards the existing ones.

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My baba called me at 7pm and told me that he had a lot of work today at our shop, because of which he couldn’t answer our calls or even go home for lunch. But he told me that he is “safe”.

The pertinent question that one needs to ask is that “Are Kolkatans really safe? How many more flyover collapses does the West Bengal government need, to wake up and take the appropriate measures required?”

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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