Army today began construction work of foot over-bridge at Elphinstone Road Railway station in Mumbai. This comes a month after Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that this bridge will be built by by January 31, 2018. Fadnavis had taken a tour of the station with Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. “We have sought the help of Indian Defence forces in building the alternative bridge at the station. We will also make additional bridges at stations including Ambivali and Currey Road railway stations on the Central Railway in Mumbai in the same period,” he said. As many as 23 commuters lost their lives in a stampede at the existing foot overbridge at Elphinstone Road station on the Western Railway in September.
“After the discussion with BJP Mumbai president Ashish Shelar on October 6, we realised that there was an urgent need to develop passenger amenities at certain railway station at the earliest. We have decided to utilise military precision to work on completing the work of bridges. These three bridges at these stations have been specifically identified as they record higher footfall.” Goyal had then said. “The army has always been steadfast in the provision of aid for disaster relief issues. This is the first time when we are actually calling army to help us in what essentially could be called civil work in the financial capital city of the country. The army conducted a feasibility study to assess whether they could complete the work and contribute to the process earlier this month,” Sitharaman had said.
An inquiry report on the September 29 Elphinstone bridge stampede had blamed heavy rain for the tragedy, officials said on October 11. According to the report, the stampede was caused by heavy rains which forced people outside at the ticket counters to rush to the already jammed staircase for cover. It said the constant flow of passengers arriving at the station compounded the problem. The report said people with heavy luggage lost their balance because of which the stampede may have occurred. The probe also said none of the witnesses supported the claim of a short circuit on the bridge leading to the chaos.
The probe panel has recommended that passengers be prevented from carrying heavy luggage during peak hours. The movement of commuters, mainly vendors, carrying baskets stuffed with goods during peak hours should also be restricted.
Other recommendations by the panel include relocating the elevated booking office to widen the staircase (the elevated booking office is adjacent to the staircase where the stampede occurred). An additional staircase can also be provided, the panel has said. It has suggested that officials use a quick mode of communication apart from mobile phones to ensure timely reaction.
On September 29, 23 people were killed in the rush hour stampede on a narrow overbridge linking Elphinstone Road and Parel suburban stations during heavy rain.