Cyber Journal 24, March 11, 2016
Asking the Army to construct bridges for Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s World Culture Festival is definitely a questionable decision. As the main opposition party, Congress is bound to question the BJP. But the party and their editor friends have no moral right to criticize the BJP because Sheila Dikshit government had even used the Army to clean CWG mess.
MG Devasahayam, the former IAS officer who recently interacted with Firstpost has pointed out that decision to ask 120 soldiers to build bridges for World Culture Festival is illegal. He also highlighted the point that only district magistrate can issue such order, and that too only in emergency situations like natural calamities, riots, or something that police force cannot handle.
On the other hand, Defense Minister-Manohar Parrikar gave explanation that Army was asked to construct these bridges because of safety reasons. Reports suggest that Delhi’s Tourism Minister-Kapil Mishra had approached the Defense Ministry for help in setting up bridges for Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s World Culture Festival.
Well, using the Army for such projects is definitely not acceptable. But, this is not the first set of bridges that the army has constructed during non-emergency situation. Soldiers have been asked to construct stages for private events (including those for Christian missionaries) as well.
There are several examples, but the best one, and most controversial one is the Bailey foot over-bridge that was constructed outside the main commonwealth stadium in 2010.
Around 1000 soldiers including engineers from The Madras Engineer Group were deployed
Foot over-bridge connecting the main Jawaharlal Nehru stadium with car and bus parking collapsed on September 21st, 2010. The concerned bridge was constructed by PNR Infra and the overall cost for the bridge was five crore. More than 27 people were injured at the site. After the collapse of this 95 meter-long hanging foot over-bridge, the Delhi government called the Army to reconstruct temporary bridge-like structure.
The Bailey bridge was constructed and handed over to the Delhi government by ‘Madras Sappers’ in just five days. They started working on it from September 25th and completed the same by September 30th according to reports.
Commonwealth Games event was a huge mess. Games village was declared ‘unfit for humans’ by representatives of several countries. Roads in Delhi were dug up; even roofs of several stadiums had collapsed. This was a result of rampant corruption. Inexperienced contractors had bagged construction contracts. Toilet paper rolls were purchased for Rs 3,000 per unit under former Congress MP Suresh Kalmadi’s instructions. Corruption cases related to the event still remain unsolved.
Didn’t the congress commit misdeed by using Army to reconstruct bridges and collapsed ceiling parts of certain venues that were constructed by companies selected by super corrupt ministers from the UPA? Activists need to pull out records from Delhi government, PWD, and Army to find details about the list of jobs that Army was asked to manage during CWG 2010 in Delhi.
While giving an explanation about the incident, Union Minister Jaipal Reddy had said-“It’s only a foot over-bridge that collapsed, nothing major has happened.” He had attracted a lot of ire from people for his comment.
News channels and politicians appreciated the Army’s efforts, but no one criticized the UPA and Delhi government for using soldiers to clean their government‘s mess. There are no records in public domain suggesting if the UPA paid any separate bill to the Army for constructing this bridge.
The Supreme Court has already dismissed a plea that urged the country’s highest court to stop the World Culture Festival. This piece is not an attempt to give a clean chit to the Modi government or AOL. Hope the event’s organizers pay Army’s bill for the same. Setting up this event near river Yamuna was definitely not a wise decision. Reports suggest that the Art of Living has agreed to pay Rs. 5 crore as fine to the NGT.
But, congress and their bunch of lobbyists/journalists have no right to criticize anyone when it comes to using Army for assistance in private events.
CWG mess was definitely not the result of natural calamities or riots according to the statement issued by former Delhi PWD Minister-Raj Kumar Chouhan.
Nitten is a consultant journalist, and has worked with renowned newspapers, news agency in India. If you are looking for desktop journalist, you can email Nitten- firstname.lastname@example.org
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