Disgrace piles on disgrace 35 years after its inauguration in October 1984. Kolkata’s Metro has been blighted yet again. The experience of the commuters on Wednesday was horrific to say the very least, almost inconceivable in any civilized city.
Overwhelming is the negligent nonchalance of the authorities and there is already a groundswell of general resentment to this fast mode of travel. The fact of the matter must be that Kolkata’s Metro can’t hold a candle to the sleek operations in Delhi and Chennai, for instance. Not to put too fine a point on it, the Metro has ceased to be the proud boast of the city.
Exactly a month after a passenger fell to his death after his fingers were stuck in between the sliding doors, the Underground was mercifully spared yet another horrendous disaster. Yet this is no cause for a collective sigh of relief at Metro Bhavan. The incident warrants a thorough investigation and responsibility fixed; it lends no scope for a convoluted exercise in self-deception. Nor for that matter does it offer an opportunity for a guided tour of senior Railway officials, as happened after the tragedy in the last week of July.
It thus comes about that during the morning peak hour, a train trundled its entire distance from Dum Dum to Kavi Subhas stations (New Garia) with one of its doors open. Incredibly enough, this journey covered a distance of 25 km, straddling 24 stations. It strains credulity that officials of central control at the Metro headquarters gave the go-ahead for the train to run with the door open after efforts of the maintenance staff to fix the same failed. The fact that it was one of the older AC rakes, increasingly decrepit and unreliable, must beg the question why it was operated, after all.
That it has now been withdrawn is only to be wise after the event. The official explanation is breathtaking in its vacuity ~ “It was a conscious decision to run the rake in that condition. Otherwise, it would have taken a lot of time to reverse the rake to the Noapara car shed. Other services would have been affected, resulting in total chaos.”
There can be no defence of the indefensible, still less with a facile excuse for an ugly truth. Neither can the authorities evade responsibility by claiming that Metro staff and RPF were deployed inside the coach to “keep passengers away from the door”. The short point must be that the incident has made a mockery of the infrastructure, such as it exists. In the net, safety was sacrificed at the altar of the schedule which, of late, has been going haywire during the evening peak hours. Kolkata’s Metro isn’t what it used to be; as often as not it can be woeful. More’s the pity.