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Friday, April 20, 2012

Mumbai Moans!


Chaos, confusion, anger, frustration and massive overcrowding all around the railway stations and railway tracks of Mumbai since the last three days leading to accidents, injuries and deaths. Over 20 million people crammed into an area of just around 600 sq kilometers exist and live with constant nightmares in this fourth most populous city of the world. The city of Greater Mumbai is bursting at the seams, and, no possible solutions in sight as ever. 

Local trains or simply called locals are the lifelines of Mumbai with nearly 8 million commuters traveling every day. People of the far-flung suburbs have no option but to take a local to work or for any purpose and the struggle for earning a livelihood combined with long traveling time required keep them in a tearing hurry, always. Even on a normal day accidents and deaths are common due to overcrowding or unauthorized crossing of railway tracks. So, it is a living nightmare when something abnormal happens to the lifelines.

Just after zero hour on Wednesday, the 18th of April, 2012, a sudden electrical fire gutted the main signal cabin at a station of the Central route of the Mumbai Suburban Railway system. The entire electric and signal cabling network came to a standstill stopping the locals on their tracks. Though the fire was brought under control very quickly and repair works taken up on war footing traffic hassles continued for next three days leading to seas of stranded passengers and unprecedented overcrowding in the restricted number of trains running. The city and state transport corporations pressed into service hundreds of extra buses, but nothing could replace the lifelines.

It was due to the after effects of the fire that led to a ghastly accident where three young men had lost their lives. Along the Central route a maintenance platform was dangling from a signal pole as its screws possible got loose. Passengers who were hanging out of a massively overcrowded local got hit by this and the three youths died being thrown away along with injuries to 25 other passengers. Central Railway staff had been blamed for their negligence, but they maintained that there was noting unusual about the pole with a dangling platform and that it was due only to extreme overcrowding. Compensation packages were announced for kin of the dead, but nothing was clear as to preventing such accidents in the future. And, how could one go about solving the problems of a city where population had more than doubled in a span of twenty years and it is still growing ominously.

Much of the population growth in Mumbai is due to migrants from other states of India, because Mumbai—the financial and film hub of the country—has continued with its tag of a ‘dream city’ where people come to fulfill theirs. In the process crime rate has also been going up since you do not know how many of the migrants have criminal minds or develop it after their dreams fail to materialize. There have been several horrific murders in recent days involving Mumbai’s posh residential areas and elite residents. Here and there in the city sophisticated and well-educated murderers seem to be moving around who can kill mercilessly just to usurp someone’s sprawling flats or imported cars. Women are being threatened increasingly and senior citizens living alone are extremely unsafe.

There is kind of a fear over the city at the moment as residents of many societies are expressing their apprehensions that maybe their next door neighbor is a hardcore criminal or a ruthless killer. The police force of the city is terribly understaffed and in many criminal cases involvement of policemen is another terrifying reality.

Isn’t it time to send out an SOS for Mumbai? 

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