Elphinstone Road stampede: Why did WR take 18 months to start process of expanding FOB, ministry to check

If this work had been expedited, the extent of the tragedy on August 29, could have been averted, official sources said.

mumbai Updated: Oct 12, 2017 09:26 IST
Aroosa Ahmed
Aroosa Ahmed
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Elphinstone Road bridge stampede,Mumbai stampede
If this work had been expedited, the extent of the tragedy on August 29, could have been averted, official sources said.(FILE)

Even as a probe panel submitted its report on the Elphinstone Road stampede, the Ministry of Railways on Wednesday instituted another probe to check why Western Railway (WR) took 18 months to issue a Notice Inviting Tender (NIT) for the expansion of the foot overbridge at the station.

If this work had been expedited, the extent of the tragedy on August 29, could have been averted, official sources said.

The committee undertaking this probe will be led by Pratyush Sinha (Retired Chief Vigilance Commissioner) and it will have Vinayak Chatterjee (Chairman CII Economic Affairs council), Subodh Jain (Retired member Engineering, railway board) and Pankaj Kumar (Director Safety, railway board) as members. The committee will inquire as to why there was a delay in the tendering process and it will also suggest ways and means to ensure delays are minimised in the future.

The probe report into the stampede submitted on Tuesday had blamed rains and rumour for the tragedy. But this probe indicates railways is also accepting its lapses and reviewing its functioning

A senior railway board official said a delay in any railway project will not be taken lightly and a thorough investigation will be done. “The railway board has decided a complete inquiry will be done in the delay of the tender. The railways from now on will not take the delay of any project lightly and immediate action regarding the official concerned will be taken,’’ he said.

After the chief safety commissioner’s report, which highlighted that the confusion among people on “pul gir gaya’’ (bridge has fallen) and ‘phool gir gaya’ (flowers have fallen) led to the stampede, it has now been decided to not allow vendors on rail FOBs during peak hours and festivals.

“Hawkers and vendors carrying heavy materials will be barred from FOBs during peak hours and festivals to avoid further congestion. Other recommendations in this report include connecting skywalks with FOBs, relocation or changing the parking areas and changing the entry and exit landings of the FOB in order to avoid heavy traffic on the bridges, which will be undertaken by both the zonal railways,’’ said a senior official.

Walkie – Talkies will be also being given to railway officials, who are posted at the railway stations for better communication. These were also the recommendations made in the central railway’s multi-disciplinary audit report.

The stampede occurred on September 29 on the Elphinstone Road FOB, which connects the station to the Parel station of Central Railway.

First Published: Oct 12, 2017 09:26 IST