23 people died in a foot over bridge stampede and no heads roll. Ministers come and ministers go no heads roll, BMC may be ruled by BJP or Shiv Sena no heads roll, length and speed of trains keep increasing no heads roll, responsibility is of the railways or the state government, the blame game will continue. All those responsible who gave statements to the media appeared so serious that it appeared before their interview would be over there would be new broad FOBs at all congested places. Population of the city is increasing; infrastructure is collapsing no heads roll. Mumbai will never stop, even if heads roll or don’t roll. That is the spirit of this city.
I read somewhere that everyday there are about 30 deaths on the tracks due to people not using the FOBs. Here people are using it and still we lose so many. What does one do? Who do we blame for those deaths? Is it the paucity of time? Is it the pressure of the job? Why is there such a hurry or rush? Why do people have to take short cuts? Is it in our blood? Is it that we assume we can beat the train? Are we so overconfident that nothing can happen to us? Of course some people do commit suicide. If the trains are slow there is an issue, if they are fast then there is an issue, if they are less then there is an issue, if you increase their numbers or the bogies then there are chances of a stampede. Leave alone the normal trains even the ladies specials are a sight to witness where everyone wants to be on this very train. The term DHAKKA-MUKKI can be experienced in such situations first hand.
Say if I have to reach my office at 9 and it takes one hour from my place of residence to reach then I need to take the train between 7.30 and 8 am. If everyone takes the same train then how can all commuters get accommodated together? Say if the capacity of the station is to handle 2 to 3 trains at a time and double the number land up, is it humanly possible for all passengers to mount or alight at the same time. The people who have to board the train don’t let the people who want to get down. Pushing is both ways. How can such a situations be tackled? Can the railways delay the arrival of one train by a minute? If they do it their track record will go for a six. The DRM will skin the people alive; the motorman will get a penalty, the station master a reprimand. Ultimately who suffers, it is the poor commuter.
If we tell corporate to stagger their office timings, how many are willing to do so? People of Nalasopara or Virar will have to get up at 4 am if their office is in Colaba or Cuff parade starts at 8am. Similarly, the offices which generally close at 6 pm will shut shop at 9 pm. Think about the ladies who have a family to look after. Think about their husbands who will be working too. Their children will have to stay alone in this mad bad world, besides girls are not safe in Mumbai. If they are travelling late, God save them. There are solutions but who will implement them. The only way out is survival of the fittest in a place called Mumbai? As it is there is no life for the common man who struggles day in and day out in these trains.
At peak hours if you are at Churchgate, VT, Dadar or Andheri, it is a nightmare folks. I still haven’t dared to mount a local ever in my ten years in and around Mumbai. I would rather pay a kali-peeli extra even if it gets stuck in traffic, or walk home rather than rub my shoulders in a local train and smell the various fragrances emanating from the arm pits staring in your face. One is also not sure to find his purse or mobile at the next station. God forbid if you are near the exit or a window; you may be hit by a flying object.
The local politics on the train one learns fast. You dare sit on a seat of a daily commuter and you shall be treated to the best of adjectives. Dare you mount a ladies compartment; besides being arrested on all charges by the GRP you would hear the latest and choicest of abuses. Chances are that you will be kicked out at the entrance itself. This often happens to novices. Dare you climb a first class compartment with a second class ticket; you will have an experience of your life time. All this my friends have narrated so I know.
The stories are endless and this Mumbai world is cruel. The railways are heartless they just carry passengers; the BMC is aimless as they can’t even fill pot holes. The passengers are incorrigible. The infrastructure is pathetic and crumbling. The population is bursting at its seams. Above all people are dying for lack of amenities and non adherence to safety procedures. Most due to negligence and maximum because of the apathy of the various governmental agencies call it the railways or the State Government or the municipality. Everyone has their own agenda.
Audits should have been done ages back, with every increase of train or passenger coach the proportionate infrastructure should be catered for. Budget should be earmarked and allocated. This drama of tender also needs to be looked into. There are too many red tapes, too many hindrances’, too many people with lackadaisical attitude working for the people of Mumbai.
My condolences to the bereaved families, if heads do not roll now then people know how to get heads rolling. I hope all concerned are listening. I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!
© Noel Ellis