The Mahad bridge tragedy on the Mumbai-Goa highway is horrible and shocking. Around three dozen are suspected to have lost lives though there are no figures to quote yet. According to the Maharashtra officials, there were two state transport buses and eight private vehicles passing through when the bridge collapsed.
But the state response has been on the expected line. An enquiry has been ordered and any accountability will be fixed only after that. And given the fact that the Maharashtra government had certified the bridge as fit only the last year, we should not expect that much is going to happen beyond this sham enquiry.
It is as it is – the lax attitude of administration in every man-made tragedy – be it the disastrous floods of Uttarakhand or many train disasters or building or bridge collapses like this or the annual human crisis caused by monsoon and drought.
The Mahad bridge collapse tragedy, like all of them, is totally man-made. It was a British era bridge that had completed its life yet the Maharashtra government saw no structural problem in it. There was incessant monsoon rain in the area for five days which caused flooding of the Savitri river over which the bridge was built, that in turn, could have caused the collapse.
So, first the government apathy let a dangerous bridge remain open for public even if a new parallel bridge was built. Second, the government failed to do a proper structural audit of the bridge in case of heavy rains.
The Mahad bridge collapse tragedy that has taken around three dozen lives is not the last one. As long as the government apathy continues, we are bound to face life’s vagaries in this way or the other. Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavist has now ordered audit of all 36 British era bridges on the Mumbai-Goa highway. But why not safety and structural audit of all the British era bridges in India? Why we only react in the aftermath of some tragedy?
After all, these are human lives.
The government collects taxes from us to manage our lives; it takes taxes for the house we posses; it taxes our restaurants bills and services like electricity, mobile and theatre bills; and it imposes road taxes, toll taxes and vehicular registration charges for building and managing roads and highways,
Yet, dilapidated buildings do collapse.
Yet, new and old flyovers do collapse – like this Mahad bridge collapse or the Kolkata flyover collapse this which was under construction.
Yet, potholes do take lives like the Vasant Kunj accident in Delhi last week where a man was run over by truck after he fell from his motorcycle which had got struck in a pothole.
So, why do we pay those taxes?
Though in a different context, a Maharashtra High Court judge had put forward the observation that the citizens should stop paying taxes if the government was not able to fulfil their basic needs – in this case a corruption free society.
While hearing a fund embezzlement case in March 2016, Justice Arun Chaudhari of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court had observed that “corruption is a hydra-headed monster and time has arrived that we stop paying taxes if the government fails to curb corruption”.