Accidents in Mumbai at Carter Road, Hill Road and Byculla
First things first, here are the facts of the three accidents involving cars and pavement dwellers -
1. Byculla Accident - 19th November - A 20-year-old student was arrested on Sunday night after his Santro knocked down two by-standers and then crashed into a roadside shanty at Byculla -Mazagaon, injuring three others, including a woman.
2. Carter Road, Bandra Accident - 12th November - Six people in a Toyota Corolla ram into hutments made of brick and tin housing migrant labourers, killing seven and injuring others.
3. Hill Road, Bandra Accident - three people in a Land cruiser (Salman Khan) ran over pavement dwellers killing one person.
There may have been many more pavement dweller accidents in Mumabi but they may not have got enough media coverage. The main question is who is responsible. An old saying goes, "taali dono haathon se bajti hain" meaning that it takes two hands to clap. The Mumbai accident drivers cannot be squarely blamed, as others including the accident victims share equal responsiblity.
1. The Drivers - may or may not have been drunk. An accident can happen to anyone especially at night. A lot depends on the condition of the road - potholes, reflectors, street lights, barriers etc. If there is no pavement, a car has to crash into something else - a ditch, field, pavement or shanties.
2. The Contractors - According to DNA news, Tiruppan a migrant worker said, "50 workers had been staying along the Carter Road for the last two years." Premachandran Sakhiram, another worker said, “It is the contractor who gives us a temporary shelter. And it gets relocated to different locations according to contract.” The contractors shoulder a large part of the blame for the Mumbai accident. If they hire people for building flyovers, bridges etc. they should make adequate housing arrangements or allow them to live in rooms of the building they are constructing like in Delhi. This is surely affordable as homes and offices in Mumbai are sold for crores making billionaires out of construction companies.
Listen in Marwari businessmen - it does not pay to squeeze out the last rupee of profit from every avenue. There are plenty of Mumbai residents without work who have a home in the city. Why don't you hire them instead of importing poor people from villages in Andhra Pradesh. You are paying these migrant workers a pittance for their labour and forcing them to fend for themselves on the streets. Giving Mumbaikars the job at a slightly higher pay won't lose you much cash ! A Pavement is a public place and no one should be allowed to sleep, far less build shanties on it.
3. The Local Police - Encroachments on the pavement are illegal, and if they have existed for two years, then the cops are at fault for not asking them to move. When these huts block pavement space, then the taxpayers who paid for these sidewalks are forced to endanger their lives by walking on the road. The police was most probably being paid by the contractors and getting 'hafta' (bribe) from the pavement dwellers as well, which is why they allow this to happen under their noses.
4. The Politicians/Administrators - kept silent because they need funds from the building contractors to fight the next election. Since the migrant workers are not registered voters in theMumbai area, they know they won't lose any votes - Listen in Mr. Vilasrao Deshmukh.
5. The Pavement Dwellers - You don't have to be literate to have common sense. If you can see cars travelling at such a speed why the heck are you still sleeping on the main road ? OK, maybe there is lack of housing, but then you should sleep on the inner roads, beaches...anywhere else but the main road. This 'chalta hai' bindaas (everything goes, nothing will happen to us) attitude just won't do. Those who have never driven a car, just don't understand how much effort it takes to control one. Though I haven't seen pavement dwellers in Delhi, there are many people who thoughtlessly dart out in front of speeding cars to cross the road, not bothering about subways, signals, zebra crossings etc. These folks are just looking for trouble.
6. Road Constructors - if the road has many twists and turns like Carter and Hill Road or is coming off a flyover like Byculla there should be adequate safety measures. There should be speed bumps, reflectors, road strips or barriers. The pavement should be atleast 10 inches high with an iron railing around it. (unlike Mumbai which has three inch or no pavements)
7. Taj Land's End Hotel/ J W Marriott - if a customer is walking out drunk from the hotel, why is the valet giving him the car keys ?
8. NGO's and Church Authorities - who provide stuff to pavement dwellers and migrant labourers and encourage them to stay in roadside shanties. Instead of blabbing how you help the poor and hiring a lawyer to prosecute the rich drivers, why don't you take long term action and file a case against the construction companies/police/administration ? Do the rich and powerful scare you now ?
Other points to note -
1. Did the victims die of accident injuries or due to suffocation and injuries resulting out of the bricks and tin sheets falling on them ?
2. Who does not drink ? If the drivers were drunk then were the pavement dwellers at Carter Road, Byculla or Hill Road sober ? Drinking and sleeping in public places like a sidewalk can get you arrested in most countries.
3. In foreign countries there are strict laws against drinking over the permissable limit and driving. There are proper streets and pavements. Similarly there are laws against jaywalking, illegal construction and labour laws. India has laws but nobody follows them, so how can you prosecute only the car drivers if everyone is at fault too ?
So, what do you think about the Mumbai accidents at Byculla, Carter Road and Hill Road ?