Crowds, chaos as Mumbai’s Lower Parel rail bridge is closed for repairs

Updated on Jul 25, 2018 01:30 AM IST
The Lower Parel ROB has been closed for both vehicular and pedestrian traffic, after an audit deemed the structure unsafe owing to corrosion.
The overcrowded lane outside Lower Parel station in Mumbai.(Anshuman Poyrekar/HT Photo)
The overcrowded lane outside Lower Parel station in Mumbai.(Anshuman Poyrekar/HT Photo)
Hindustan Times | By, Mumbai

There was a near-stampede situation on Tuesday morning outside Lower Parel station, after the road overbridge (RoB) was shut for vehicular traffic as well as pedestrians. The reason: despite several rounds of meetings between various authorities, there was no concrete public dispersal plan for pedestrians and initially, there was neither signage nor personnel to direct the crowds.

Mumbai traffic police in coordination with the Western Railways (WR) and the BMC had planned to shut down the RoB at Lower Parel station, which was built in 1921 and found unsafe during a safety audit conducted by Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B) on July 17. An inspection of all railway bridges across the city is being conducted following the collapse of Gokhale Bridge in Andheri earlier this month. Based on the report, it was decided that the bridge would be rebuilt and closed to both pedestrians and vehicles on July 20.

In anticipation of this, the traffic police announced a diversion plan for vehicles.

The road closure forced Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) to divert seven bus routes via Bharat Mata-Elphinstone Road Bridge. However, no authority had thought about east-west connectivity for pedestrians at the stations. Most commuters were unaware that they would have to use a service lane or a staircase, both of which are narrow.

“We had requested railway officers to allow the pedestrians to use the bridge, but they claimed that the entire bridge is dangerous,” said Ajay Chaudhary, a Shiv Sena legislator who has asked Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar to call a joint meeting of all three authorities to find a solution.

Ravinder Bhakar, chief spokesperson of WR, said the bridge was not safe for pedestrian traffic. “We asked to shut the bridge only after receiving the recommendation of the IIT Bombay report,” he said.

Lower Parel station has a footfall of 1,50,000 passengers and close to 75,000 use the station every day. Daily, lakhs walk between Lower Parel station on WR, Currey Road on Central Railway (CR) and N M Joshi Marg to reach offices in the surrounding areas. In a situation that had ominous similarities to the 2017 stampede at Elphinstone Road station, the railway, civic and traffic police authorities had not taken note of the pedestrian traffic between the two stations that are located about 200 meters from each other.

“A large crowd accumulated to go up the narrow staircase to reach the station or go towards the west side, as there was no other option. As a result, the situation became chaotic. We were praying that there would not be stampede as the crowd got stuck and there was no way out,” said an eyewitness? who remembers the girl next to him was crying.

Mahadeo Dorugade, a Currey Road resident, said he was on his way to office in Lower Parel when he was swept up by the huge crowd. “Due to peak hour rush, some people were trying to rush towards their offices on the west side of the railway line, while passengers were alighting on the station were coming from the opposite side. Neither group was moving ahead nor there scope to turn back. Parked vehicles were also obstacles,” said Dorugade. It took him more than 20 minutes to climb the staircase from the junction, instead of the usual five minutes. According to locals, the situation eased around 10.30 am when the police arrived and created a passage through private property. Commuters blamed lack of coordination between various authorities for their troubles. “Before shutting the bridge for traffic, why didn’t the authorities inform public about an alternate route? Why were parked cars and other obstacles were not removed from the service lane?” asked Laxman Revane, a resident. By noon, the BMC had put up boards and removed obstacles from the service lane. In the evening, WR issued a passenger dispersal plan and deployed the Railway Police Force (RPF) at the stations. According to the plan, passengers should use the foot overbridges (FoB) to the north and south. Ropes would be introduced to facilitate a queue if the crowd swells at the station.

The locals reported that the situation was better in the evening.

The rail overbridge was closed on Tuesday morning. (Anshuman Poyrekar/HT Photo )
The rail overbridge was closed on Tuesday morning. (Anshuman Poyrekar/HT Photo )

    Kailash works with the political team and has been covering transport beat for over a decade. He is interested in travel and music.

Close Story

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Vinayak Mete. (Facebook Photo)

    Maharashtra: Maratha reservation activist and MLC Vinayak Mete dies in accident

    Vinayak Mete, Maharashtra legislative council member and leader of pro-Maratha outfit Shiv Sangram, died early on Sunday morning when the SUV he was travelling in met with an accident near Bhatan tunnel in Raigad district on the Pune-Mumbai expressway. While the driver escaped unhurt, he alleged that the highway control room did not respond. Expressway police officials claimed that Mete's driver was trying to overtake another vehicle when the accident took place.

  • File photo.

    'Role model for investors': Karnataka CM's rich tribute to Rakesh Jhunjhunwala

    Veteran investor and billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala died on Sunday morning at 62, prompting an outburst of condolences across the country. Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj S Bommai remembered the business magnate as "a role model for young investors". Karnataka health minister K Sudhakar also paid tributes to the ace investor. The minister defined Jhunjhunwala as the Warren Buffet of India and he even paid condolences to his family. He was reported to be battling health issues.


    Karnataka: Man kills his estranged wife in family court by slitting her throat

    In a shocking act, a man killed his estranged wife at a family court here on Saturday by allegedly slitting Chaitra's throat, police said. The family court was organised at Hole Narasipura to settle the discord among the couple where Chaitra (28) and Shivakumar (32) had also come. After the judge heard them, the court gave the couple the next date of hearing, Superintendent of Police R Srinivas Gowda told reporters.

  • Representational image.

    Rajasthan: Dalit student beaten to death for touching water pot of upper caste

    Family members of a nine-year-old Dalit boy from Rajasthan, who died at a hospital in Ahmedabad on Saturday, alleged that he was mercilessly beaten by a teacher for drinking water from a pot meant for people from the upper caste. Police said the accused teacher, Chail Singh (40),has been arrested and a case under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and the SC/ST Act has been lodged.

  • Screen grab from viral Twitter video. 

    Mother saves kid from snake bite moment cobra raises hood. Watch viral video

    In a scary video that is viral on the internet, a woman was seen saving her child from a cobra bite outside their residence. The incident is said to have happened in Mandya district of Karnataka and the CCTV footage that went viral showed the prudence of the mother. In the video, the cobra was seen passing through the entrance of the house and it went unnoticed.

Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, August 14, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now