The three foot-over-bridges (FOBs) at Elphinstone Road, Currey Road and Ambivli, built by Indian Army has been opened today for public. The FOB at Elphinstone Road has been built by Indian Army in 117 days, which marks a record. Last year, on September 29, as many as 23 people were killed and many of them were critically injured due to a stampede on a narrow FOB, which connected the Elphinstone Road and Parel suburban stations, in Mumbai.
According to the Western Railways, the FOB will benefit around 1.6 lakh rail commuters as it connects two stations of Western Railway and Central Railway. Western Railways also said that the FOB will be very convenient for flowers and fish sellers to use during peak time as the bridge connects Parel Station in the east and Phool Wali gali in the west. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Minister of State for Defence Dr Subhash Bhamre will dedicate the new bridges to Mumbaikars, and the inauguration will be done by Mumbai dabbawallas namely Babban Walunj, Sopan More, Yamunaji Ghule, Ulhas Mukhe and Subhash Talekar.
The FOB at Elphinstone Road is 70 m long and 3.5 m wide and the project is of worth Rs 18 crore. The 30 m long and 3.5 m wide FOB at Currey Road has been constructed at a cost of Rs 3 crore and the 20 m long and 3.5 m wide FOB at Ambivli has been developed at a cost of Rs 2.7 crore.
According to a railway inquiry, the tragic incident happened due to downpour and panic among the people in the bridge. In addition to this, the inquiry panel also suggested people not to carry heavy luggage during peak hours. The inquiry panel had 5 members and was led by Chief Safety Officer of Western Railways, S K Singla. According to Chief PRO of Western Railways, Ravinder Bhakar, the stampede happened when a vendor shouted “phool padla” which means flowers have fallen and people misunderstood it for “pul gir gaya”. This caused sudden panic in the downpour and led to stampede.
After the collapse of the bridge at Elphinstone Road, the government faced pressure from public. To fasten the process and to make the bridge available for people to use, in a short time span, Railway Ministry gave the charge of construction to Indian Army. Along with the Elphinstone bridge, the Army successfully completed the other two FOBs at Currey Road station and Ambivali station in Mumbai, in a short time.