In a tragic incident on Friday morning, at least 22 persons were killed and 39 were injured in a rush-hour stampede on a narrow foot-over-bridge (FOB) linking Elphinstone Road and Parel suburban stations during heavy rain. “Bodies of 17 victims have been handed over to their relatives so far,” senior medical officer at the hospital, Dr Praveen Bangar, told PTI. As soon as the news of this stampede came out, the blame game started. While some people hit out at the BMC, others demanded resignation from Railway minister Piyush Goyal. The bigger question was that what exactly led to this tragedy? While we can keep the blame game aside for a moment, there is no doubt that the incident was a result of a poor state of Mumbai’s infrastructure.
According to a report by The Indian Express, the problem with the 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. Moreover, there is no roofing outside the foot overbridge which forced people to take shelter inside it because of the rain.
Earlier, it was believed that no steps have been taken regarding these issues because of the fragmented coalition governments which were the case with the UPA government but even BJP is yet to take any solid steps despite having an absolute majority in the Centre, the state and a sizeable presence in the city government also.