Hours after the railway foot overbridge (FOB) stampede that claimed at least 22 lives here today, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal announced a safety and capacity audit of all FOBs on the suburban train network. “A complete safety and capacity audit of all the FOBs across the suburban train network will be conducted,” he said. “Normally, it takes 20 days to come out with the report (of any incident), but for the auditing purpose of all the FOBs, we need to send technical experts and I guess that within 20 days we will have the audit reports of all the FOBs of the suburban trains,” the minister added. He was speaking at the BMC-run KEM Hospital, where bodies of those killed in the tragedy were brought. Several of the injured are also admitted there.
Goyal said the railways would expedite improvement in suburban train services “on highest priority”. “I have come to know that the official procedure to widen the ill-fated bridge was underway. Budget was sanctioned only last year and the tendering process was underway, but unfortunately, this most tragic incident unfolded today,” he told reporters. He said his thoughts were with the grieving families.
Goyal also recounted his old bond with the Indian Railways, particularly the Central Railway and the Western Railway during his education days in Mumbai. He said even yesterday he had underlined the necessity to improve the comfort level of train travellers by bringing incremental changes in the amenities. “I want to assure all, the Indian Railway is committed to doing that,” Goyal said. Announcing the ex-gratia, he said the Railways will give Rs 5 lakh each to the next kin of the dead passengers apart from the Maharashtra government’s compensation of Rs 5 lakh each.
In a message, BJP MP Kirit Somaiya, said the kin of the deceased passengers are eligible to get Rs 8 lakh more as per the revised railway claim tribunal rules. The relatives of the deceased passengers are eligible to get additional Rs 8 lakh, besides the Rs 10 lakh announced by the government, he said. Goyal, who reached Mumbai this morning for the scheduled inauguration of 100 additional suburban services in the financial capital, cancelled all his previous engagements following the tragedy. At least 22 persons were killed and over 30 injured in a rush hour stampede on a narrow foot overbridge (FOB) linking Elphinstone Road and Parel suburban stations during heavy rain today morning.