Mumbai railway stations need more FOBs, CCTVs, skywalks, says safety audit
In the wake of the stampede that killed 23 on September 29, union railway minister Piyush Goyal formed 13 teams comprising CR, WR, civic and police officials to look at the issues faced by commuters and recommend changes.mumbai Updated: Oct 25, 2017 10:02 IST
From eviction of hawkers to construction of foot overbridges (FOBs) – the safety audit that was released on Tuesday suggested a series of steps to prevent an Elphinstone Road-like stampede at stations across the city.
In the wake of the stampede that killed 23 on September 29, union railway minister Piyush Goyal formed 13 teams comprising CR, WR, civic and police officials to look at the issues faced by commuters and recommend changes.
The audit team, in its report submitted last week, suggested that hawkers on the railway land and 150m area surrounding the station be evicted. The authorities need to demarcate the plots they are in charge of so there is clarity on who needs to initiate the crackdown, says the report. Railway officials said the civic body has agreed to cooperate with them to act against illegal hawkers.
- Who needs to act on illegal hawkers at a spot on the railway station or premises? To provide an easy answer to this question, railway and BMC officials have started to demarcate areas by putting up signboards.
- The move is to ensure hawkers don’t escape amid confusion over jurisdiction. The step is being taken after the presence of hawkers emerged as one of the main reasons that led to the stampede on Elphinstone Road station last month.
- The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has doubled the penalty for illegal hawkers. Civic chief Ajoy Mehta has asked its information technology (IT) department to look into the request of MNS to create a WhatsApp number for citizens to send complaints against hawkers and prepare a plan for it. The number will be modelled on the lines of the pothole-tracking app, where the location too can be fed.
- The civic body has employed more people at the licence department and allowed ward officers to hire vehicles to seize the goods of hawkers, if the earnings from confiscation are going to be 1.5 times the cost of hiring. So far, only two vehicles were available per ward.
- Meanwhile, Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam met Mehta on Tuesday, urging the BMC to enact the Protection of livelihood and regulation of Street Vending Act, 2014. Accusing the BMC of harassing hawkers, Nirupam said they too have a right to livelihood.
Other suggestions include construction of skywalks by civic bodies with landing on railway stations, building more FOBs, installation of more CCTV cameras at entry and exit points, setting up government railway police (GRP) help desks at stations, and removing advertisements on FOBs, among others.
The team has also given specific analysis of the situation at stations. For instance, how Sewri station on the harbour line of the CR has no exit points to the east, which leads to a large number of people crossing the tracks. They have also included the suggestions by commuter groups such as staggering office timings, demolishing abandoned structures that block people, among others.
According to the audit, outsourcing personnel to manage crowd can help tackle the situation better during peak hours. The team wants the limit for permissible free luggage -- 50kg for first class and 35kg for second class -- be reduced to 15kg and 10kg, respectively.
The railway officials plan to meet civic and police officials every month to discuss the action being taken on the suggestions made in the audit report.