Thursday, October 11, 2018

Accidental City!

“The value of life can be measured by how many times your soul has been deeply stirred”... Soichiro Honda.

Soichiro Honda was a Japanese engineer and industrialist. In 1948, he established Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and oversaw its expansion from a wooden shack manufacturing bicycle motors to a multinational automobile and motorcycle manufacturer. Well no wonder with such philosophy about the life backing up knowledge is what made Japanese car maker one of the best automobile company in the world & its absence of such personalities (with due respect to Ratan Tata & Azim Premji likes) in our country is the reason that life has so less value here! Well knowing the present franatism about expressing anything which may go against the so called govt yet I dare to say we are a doomed country when subject is value of the life (read human life) & if someone has objection here are few recent incidences (most of them has already forgotten except the families of deceased) in this Best City, Smart City, Livable City No 1 & what not; I am referring to our very own Pune.

A year back a truck lost control on Sinhagad road & whirled towards the shop adjoining road & killed a young engineer girl who was having milk shake on the steps of the shop during her lunch break. What happened to the truck driver is not known the girl’s family is clueless against whom they should complaint i.e. against the driver who was speeding to such extent so he lost the control or against the road authorities for the design which provides no protection against such situation or the police/civic body who allows heavy vehicles in the city in work hours or the shop keeper who was selling milk shake right adjoining to the road with no safety measures for its customers! Well fact is the parents lost their engineer daughter & some brother won’t have anybody to tie rakhi this raksha bandhan, that’s all people have forgot the incidence. Today if you go from that spot then the shop is still selling milk shake, clients still sit on the same steps, road situation is same & trucks are freely moving carrying all sorts of goods!

Next incidence was some four months back on Nagar road (another busy work road of city), two employees of a soft-ware company were walking towards home after their office hours from the foot path (there are still some walkable spaces in city named as foot path) & suddenly the transformer of MSEB (I like this than MSEDCL) positioned adjoining to footpath got burst & hot oil got spread all around. There were many people around this spot but the two more unfortunate, one young girl & a boy were closer making them exposed more & the girl died due to injuries where as to my knowledge the boy got serious burn injuries & undergoing through treatment in ICU of some hospital. There was news in recent that his parents can’t bare the expenses of the treatment & has appealed to MSEB for the compensation about which nothing has been done. The police filed charge sheets but no arrests has been made, MSEB says it’s an accident & maintenance was not with them but some contractor or the developer where as no statement has been given from the said names & outcome is two families got shattered by this accident. Well, I wonder what’s the definition of accident in this city because going by Wikipedia is , “An accident, also known as an unintentional injury, is an undesirable, incidental, and an unplanned event that could have been prevented had circumstances leading up to the accident been recognized, and acted upon, prior to its occurrence”! Unintentional in this case I can accept but what about that could have been prevented as whose job was it to maintain the said transformer in good condition? Falling lightning in thunderstorm on the transformer & then it got burst can be accident but on its own a transformer getting burst, can it be called accident? And why it was not installed with proper covering to protect people around if it can burst accidently, can that be also called as a accident? May be as per MSEB (read govt) it’s so or else take a walk anywhere in city & you will find hundreds of such transformers which are standing in open without any protection against accidental bursting, which as per MSEB, can happen any time any where! Well I have heard about sleeping volcanoes which can get active any time & burst & till now I used to think that’s accidental phenomenon but great by living in this city my knowledge about accidents is getting better!

Last rainy season in karvnagar area (a decent residential area of western Pune) where I also live nearby & takes footpath for my evening or morning walks. There was a babul tree on the foot path which has got dangerously tilted right from bottom. Reason may be naturally or even due to the paving work around it but it was surely going to fall someday & on one evening with strong winds before rains it collapsed killing one lady who was taking her walk & her only fault was she was right below that tree on the foot path & got killed instantly! By PMC it was an accident & many will say yes what anybody can do when a tree falls but when a normal health tree fall down it can be accident, the tree was already in dangerous position & any normal person & not some horticulturist was needed to tell its future, so who has stopped garden dept of PMC to cut it before it fall down naturally? The very same PMC gives notices to the residents of old wadas in the city to vacate their residence so as to avoid any mishap in monsoon but it can’t see such trees & remove on its own as the tree was on footpath making it PMC’s property! If a normal man goes to PMC to cut some branches or such dangerous trees in private lands then also the PMC takes nearly an year to give NOC to cut such tree (that to if the owner is lucky enough) making the residents around such trees at mercy of nature & all they can do is pray that the tree won’t fall before they get NOC to cut it! But by PMC the lady was fool & careless as she should have avoided walking near such tree & she could have saved herself from getting killed in the accident!

Then in last month wall of the canal which supplies water to towns &  farmers beyond Pune on east side got burst & huge water force flooded the homes adjoining the canal making hundreds of families homeless & taking away all their belongings even things like dining table & gas cylinders! And thanks to gods that it happened in day time when most people were out of their homes for daily rituals like work or school or just imagine what havoc it would have been if the canal would have burst at night! And as usual the authorities i.e. Irrigation dept which owns the canal (means they are supposed to maintain) & our dear PMC which is “maibaap’ of the families in these homes both said it was an accident & even blamed rodents & rats for scouring the walls of the canals making them weak & eventually collapsing due to water pressure!  Yes it was accident as nobody has actually sabotaged the canal burst yet why the canal walls were not maintained time to time till they get weak to such extent; as well it’s said that all these homes are illegal as they have been build in no development zone i.e. in the safe distance which has to be kept from the canal. If so then how these homes were build illegally & been there so long, then whose responsibility was it to remove them or is this also an accident? As well it’s been observed many optical fiber cables of internet provider companies has been laid right in the base of canal walls, weakening the walls in addition to damage done by rodents & rats, is this digging also done accidently, is also I will like to ask! 

And just some eight days back a young lady doctor was killed due to kite flying manja (a thin rope) which got tangled around her neck while she was driving a two wheeler on some main road in PCMC. Such was the sharpness of that manja that it cut deep in her neck damaging the vocal as well air pipe &she fall down from her bike, laying there on road in her own blood pool while for twenty minutes no vehicles stopped to take her to hospital (again a ugly face of smart or livable city) & died eventually till she got medical help! Accident, police as well media cried but if I remember there is ban (prohibition) on selling this manja thing in city, isn’t it? At the same time who is supposed to have control on people flying kites with prohibited manja  & that too near the roads with heavy traffic instead making them do so in open areas where such accidents won’t happen!

And then like feather in the cap the latest “accident” occurred when a hording fall down on commuters waiting at signal in a busiest square in the city! I don’t need to write about the havoc it created as the clip of the incident is on mostly everybody’s cell phone as joke is when such incidence happens the cc tv cameras capture it perfect but when some vehicle has hit some pedestrian or chain snatch incidence then the cc tv’s rarely gives proper image of any help!  Any ways that’s different subject but when I saw that clip of hording falling on people standing at signal I was too stunned for any comment, except “My God” & sure all those who have seen it shared my reaction. Again as per the Railway dept (as the hoarding was in their land they are the owners) initially gave same reaction is it was an ‘Accident” though a tragic one & later some official even acknowledged that it was negligence on the part of Railway, a silver lining to the mishap! Yet why PMC has to give just notices when it knew these hoardings were illegal & risky as if some day the Police on duty (by the way they has to be 24 hours so) see some murder happening in other govt dept’s land, will it wait to give notice to the said dept & turn a blind eye towards the murder? If no is the answer then why PMC on its own didn’t demolished such dangerous illegal hoardings instead just giving notice to Railway & looking other way than the hoardings, still we can call it as an accident? As those who died were all PMC residents only & standing on PMC’s road, still PMC can say that it was not their jurisdiction & accepts that the four people’s death under that hording was a plain accident? And what we should call to the thousands of such hoardings (hanging death is better word) which are still displaying faces of our dear leaders & social workers, “Accident in Waiting”?

And then every day people die in road accidents on BRT routes while PMC says its job of PMPML (PMT) to control entry of two wheelers or private vehicles in BRT lanes, PMPML says PMC doesn’t gives them funds & Police says they don’t have enough man power to control this & its job of either PMC or PMPML but certainly not Police’s, so the accidents keeps happening killing people on BRT route. As well we read news of small kid playing outside his home (mostly some hutments illegal needless to say) was attacked by stray dogs suffering serious injuries, sometimes even death! Again authorities say “accident” as how can someone predict stray dog’s behavior, indeed but who is supposed to control their population in first place & stop their menace for the city? Or overpopulation of stray dogs too is an accident now?

Indeed in this city we can’t kill stray dogs (no, I don’t want to kill them just gave an example) but the citizens get killed like dogs on street (read “kutte ki maut”) as above are just trailer the way death approaches to common man under the name of accident! Issue is not about the accidents but our attitude to let them happen knowingly & on top of it not doing anything about them as well denying accident’s responsibility! In most of above incidences we could have avoided these so called accidents but by tagging them as accidents, is like allowing get away for the concerned people who are the cause behind these accidents actually! May it be MSEB transformer or canal wall or hording collapse or traffic management there are lacunas which can be seen by naked eyes yet we just don’t care about improving the system as for us death has become just an accident! In some way the citizens themselves are responsible as what can be said about the people who needs a law to wear helmet for protecting their own head, this can happen only in Pune, really the Smartest City, aren’t we? But then going by recent incidences even helmet can’t protect any citizen while moving on city streets, rather we should think of full body armor while we go out of our home though I wonder as what if some fly-over (over bridge) falls on my head, which armor will save me then!

Sanjay Deshpande 
Sanjeevani Dev.

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