“The Army said they can build a bridge in a short span… We are taking the Army’s help in building a new foot overbridge at the Elphinstone Road station and at two other suburban train stations in Mumbai,” Mr Fadnavis told reporters.
Work on these bridges will be completed by January 31, he said. The Army reportedly surveyed the area earlier this month.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that while the Army “has its role at the borders”, it was roped in because of the urgency in this case.
“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,” Ms Sitharaman said, adding that the Army is “happy to help” as it feels it is contributing to nation-building.
The deadly stampede broke out on September 29 at the old, narrow bridge currently connecting two of the busiest stations in Mumbai – the Elphinstone Road and Parel stations. A large crowd had poured into the bridge that was already bursting with people taking shelter from the sudden downpour.
The Army has been known to step in for urgent construction work in the past, but the move to commission the forces for the construction of a bridge in Mumbai has drawn flak. Among those who have raised questions is Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, a former Army officer.
The @adgpi job is to train for war, not to be used for civilian works @nsitharaman ji. Don’t divert defence resources to civilian jobs(1/2).
– Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) October 31, 2017
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
In 2010, when Delhi hosted the Commonwealth Games, the Army stepped in and rebuilt in record time a bridge that had suddenly crashed near a key stadium.
Last year, the Army built a floating bridge on the river Yamuna for Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s “Art of Living” event that was controversial because of environmental violations.
Earlier this year, a battalion was called in by the Ministry of Water Resources to keep a close watch on those throwing waste into the river Ganga.