Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday, October 31, announced that the Indian army will be roped in to build three foot-over bridges in Mumbai, including the one at the Elphinstone Road Railway station.
Fadnavis, who visited the Elphinstone Road Station with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitaraman and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said,
We have sought the help of Indian Defence forces in building the alternative bridge at the station. We will also make additional bridges at stations including Ambivali and Currey Road railway stations on the Central Railway in Mumbai in the same period.
The new bridge will be constructed by the military’s engineering wing and will be ready for use by the end of February 2018. The government’s move comes a month after the stampede that led to the death of 23 people at the overcrowded Elphinstone Road Station on September 29. Underlining the urgency of the matter, Sitaraman said, “A call was taken to cooperate seeing urgency of the matter as Army has its role at the borders.”
I wanted to know the army’s view. We know that the army rushes to places where there are natural disasters…This is probably for the first time the Army was asked to come in to build what could otherwise be called civil work, but the Elphinstone tragedy was so big.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal also posted a tweet thanking the defence minister for ‘coming to the aid of the nation’
“#MumbaiThanksArmy for coming to the aid of the Nation. Grateful to RM @nsitharaman for immediately responding to our call for help.”
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) October 31, 2017
However, the Maharashtra government’s decision has invited the ire of the opposition and faced criticism on social media. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, a former army man himself, criticised the move to deploy army for civilian work.
— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) October 31, 2017
Maharashtra Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam also vented his ire over government’s move.
— Sanjay Nirupam (@sanjaynirupam) October 31, 2017
Former Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also noted that the army should have been the “last resort” unless it was the case of “extreme emergency”. He tweeted,
The army was to be a measure of last resort to be called upon in extreme emergency. Now it seems like it’s the 1st number on the speed dial. https://t.co/9e9hJOgDTY
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) October 31, 2017
Taking swipe at the Centre, Shiv Sena leader A Sawant said,
Jumla aur drama banane mein unka (BJP) koi haath nahi pakad sakta (One cannot compete with the BJP in rhetorics and drama)
The angst was also visible on Twitter with many social media users slamming the government’s move.
— Niraj Bhatia (@bhatia_niraj23) October 31, 2017
Elphinstone bridge work to be taken over by military . If State Govt.and Railways r unable to govern, let there be military rule in State.
— Majeed Memon MP (@advmajeedmemon) October 31, 2017
— Preeti Sharma Menon (@PreetiSMenon) October 31, 2017
Shows how incompetent the civic authorities are ..
They r only good at corruption..
It’s not army job to build FOB
— Sameera Gawandi (@sameeratweeter) October 31, 2017
Where are those bloody State and bmc engineers?? Getting paid heftly along with bribe bt wont work, calling army for FOB, in metro city mum
— NationFirst (@NationFirst__) October 31, 2017
Wake up gov officers and do some work for salary you are taking, army have lot of other things to handle #elphinstone
— Aniket Joshi (@Aniket19Joshi) October 31, 2017
Indian Army to build 3 new Foot-over-bridges at #Elphinstone, Currey Road & Ambivali by Jan 2018, atleast govt realises gravity of situation
— Avni Raja (@avniraja) October 31, 2017
The Army is playing its part in nation building, what’s the problem in that? Army has always helped the people in all kinds of calamities
— The Great NAMO (@ParveenHere) October 31, 2017
— Shreekumar Menon (@shreekm) October 31, 2017