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Sunday, Aug 18, 2019

Stampede at Elphinstone Road railway station was waiting to happen | HT View

At least 15 people were killed and 30 injured in the stampede at Mumbai’s Elphinstone Road station on Friday morning.

mumbai Updated: Sep 29, 2017 20:26 IST
Manoj Nair
Manoj Nair
Hindustan Times

In the last two decades, Lower Parel, Mumbai’s former mill district, has turned into an office hub. The textile factories have been replaced by high-rise office towers. Banks, media corporations, retail companies have moved into the area, attracted by the relatively lower rent – compared to the old business hubs like Nariman Point and Cuffe Parade. Lakhs of office workers now commute to the area, most of them by the suburban trains on the Western and Central Railway. But nobody told the Indian Railways about the big changes in the area.

The area is served by Parel and Currey Road stations on the Central Railway and Elphinstone Road, Lower Parel stations on the Western Railway. These stations were built during the first phase of railway construction in the country in the first half of the 20th century. At that time the area was filled with textile mill and the chawls that housed the workers. The stations were not made to handle a heavy crush of commuters. When the area started to change in the 1990s, the railways and the city’s government looked the other way.

The result is that these stations are now among the most crowded in the city, and among the most dangerous. Commuters using Parel and Elphinstone Road stations will tell you that there are stampede-like situations daily. Parel station has not been remodeled though there has been a talk about it for decades. A muddy lane lined with garbage bins and illegal religious shrines connects the station to the roads leading to the large office complexes. The only addition has been a pedestrian bridge at the northern end of the station which few commuters use as it goes nowhere. An extra platform is being constructed to ease the crowding but work has been exasperatingly slow. The railway’s solution to the dangerous crowding has been to station two police constables with whistles to herd the crowds. The only change being worked on is the renaming of the station from Elphinstone Road to Prabhadevi.

Senior railway officers have to be punished for this gross negligence.

First Published: Sep 29, 2017 11:55 IST

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