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Row over asking Army to build footover bridges in Mumbai

Row over asking Army to build footover bridges in Mumbai
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The Maharashtra government on Tuesday said the Army would build three footover bridges including the one at Elphinstone railway station where a...

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government on Tuesday said the Army would build three footover bridges including the one at Elphinstone railway station where a stampede killed 23 people in September, sparking a political slugfest over soldiers being used in civil works.

"Given the Army engineers' expertise, they will construct the three foot overbridges by January 31. The Army has been very helpful to not just us but the society at large and I am very thankful to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal for this huge help to bring ease in Mumbaikars' life," Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told the media.

The move to involve the army for urban civilian works in peace-time attracted strong criticism from opposition leaders, including Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Mumbai Congress President Sanjay Nirupam, former Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and a passengers body.

"The army job is to train for war, not to be used for civilian works Sitharamanji. Don't divert defence resources to civilian jobs. You're doing what General Kaul did with the 4th Division before 1962 war with China.

It will set a very bad precedent. Pls avoid," tweeted Singh, a former Army captain himself. "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," said Abdullah.

Nirupam tweeted: "Calling Army to make a bridge in Mumbai underlines failure of corrupt Shiv Sena-BJP ruled BMC. Hope army will not be asked to fill potholes here."Attacking the move, Nationalist Congress Party spokesperson Nawab Malik said the Indian Army must be given such responsibilities "only in dire emergencies".

Terming it an "endorsement of the abject failure" of the railway, which indicated that its not capable of building even FOBs and has to call in the army, he demanded the Railway Minister's resignation.

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