DC Edit | Delhi airport canopy collapse: Fix accountability now!

A canopy at the 15-year-old departure forecourt of Terminal 1 collapsed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi causing the death of one person and injuries to at least six others. The heavy rain that lashed the capital with the onset of the monsoon was a clear enough primary cause, but the mishap shines the light on the quality of maintenance of a visible public place like an airport that the government and the companies it floats to do such jobs as building and upkeep of crucial public places.

This part of the airport built in 2009 was to have been shut in a month as terminal expansion has been going on at pace. But such an accident does immense damage to the image of governments. No wonder then that a blame game erupted almost immediately with the Congress spitting invectives at the government of the day, which at once pointed out that it was the UPA-2 government that built it.

At issue here is not which government was in place at the time of the building of the terminal and who the rulers were when its roof came down. All governments, regardless of the national or regional party that forms them, are guilty of paying scant attention to such details as the quality of infrastructure put up on their behalf and their maintenance.

The blame game is just an ugly manifestation of the polarised times the nation is going through in the wake of the most divisive general elections ever held. Pointing fingers at each other has been made an art form in a nation that may be the world’s fifth largest economy and proud of heading towards becoming the third largest, but which too often resembles the third world country India was not so long ago.

A collapsing pedestrian walkway in a crowded suburban railway station, a suspension show bridge coming down, trains running into each other and one aircraft taking off moments before the other lands on the same runway are all events that serve to remind all that governments, by their acts of commission and omission, are most often complicit when it comes to several manmade disasters.

The Opposition accused the government of corruption and criminal negligence for the canopy collapse but without realising that much the same could be said of things seen to happen in all states. It is the general malaise of graft bringing down the quality of construction of infra that the government pays for that is highlighted every time a structure in a public place comes down like this.

It is the quality of governance of India and its states and the apathy of governments towards public services and utilities that hurt people the most. Extreme climate events like very heavy rainfall or human failure are often attributed as the cause of mishaps. Sadly, accountability is not fixed on bureaucrats and officials without fear or favour. Probes are initiated and general alerts are sounded to check all infrastructure after a mishap, that is until the next mishap takes place.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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