The Elphinstone stampede, which took 23 lives in Mumbai on September 29, happened because of the heavy rain, an enquiry report on the incident has said. PTI reported today that the probe panel, headed by Western Railway chief security officer, submitted its report to WR General Manager Anil Kumar today after recording statements of 30 commuters who were injured.
The probe panel also examined video footage of the incident, according to PTI. The report said that the stampede happened because of the heavy rains, which forced people outside at the ticket counters to rush to the already jammed staircase for cover. The problem became big with a constant flow of passengers arriving at the station.
According to PTI, the report said that the stampede may have happened when people with heavy luggage lost their balance. None of the witnesses supported the claim of a short circuit on the bridge leading to the stampede.
The Indian Express had earlier reported that the problem with Elphinstone Road station and the adjoining Parel station have been known for over a decade now. Many big commercial complexes have come up around these two railway stations which means thousands of employees arrive and depart from here. There were protests in 2005 by advocacy groups which grabbed the attention to how the infrastructure in the Mill Lands District is just not sufficient to handle a large number of people who will start thronging the commercial complexes once they are ready. There was a clear need on one or two more foot over bridges. It could have even widened the existing bridges to reduce the rush but neither of it happened.
The probe panel has recommended that passengers be prevented from carrying heavy luggage during peak hours. Movement of commuters, mainly vendors, carrying baskets stuffed with goods during peak hours should also be restricted.
Among other recommendations, the panel suggested relocating the elevated booking office to widen the staircase (the elevated booking office is adjacent to the staircase where the stampede occurred) at the station. An additional staircase can also be provided, it added.
The narrow overbridge, on which the stampede took place, links Elphinstone Road and Parel suburban stations.