Book the guilty

The collapse of the Freedom Park wall, which claimed the life of one man and damaged around eight cars in Bangalore on Saturday night, has thrown the spotlight on the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s shoddy construction work. The Freedom Park wall was not a centuries-old construction. It was just a few years old. Yet rains on two consecutive days were enough to bring the wall crumbling down. Clearly funds were not lacking to ensure a sturdy construction. The government had sanctioned BBMP an amount of Rs 10.27 crore for the construction of the Freedom Park. In fact, it has emerged that BBMP overshot spending on the Park by a whopping Rs 8 crore. Not only did the BBMP brazenly violate the orders issued by the government with regard to spending on the Park but also, it compromised on the quality of the construction. The crumbling of the wall after the downpour stands testimony to the poor quality construction and the gross wastage of public funds. Those in the BBMP who authorised the spending and the contractor who executed the construction of the wall should be brought to book.

Instead of taking responsibility for the substandard construction that resulted in the death of a man, officials are busy blaming him for the tragedy. They are pointing out that a part of the wall had collapsed the previous day and had he not parked near a wall that was obviously weak, the mishap could have been averted. Blaming the victim for the tragedy is unconscionable. In June last year, the life of a 17-year-old girl was cut short when another BBMP wall on Bellary road crashed down on her. Then as now, officials sought to absolve the administration of responsibility. Bystanders did not help the girl, they alleged. But why did the wall collapse in the first place? A probe followed and the government announced amidst much fanfare that the two contractors — one of whom is a corporator as well — would be blacklisted. Is that punishment enough?

Blaming the collapse of roofs and walls on ‘nature’s fury’ will not do. Death and damage caused by poor building construction must not be dismissed as accidents. These are the result of a shocking disregard for human life. Lives are being lost on this account and the courts must award exemplary punishment in these cases.

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