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One year after stampede, Prabhadevi-Parel infra works still incomplete

A year after the stampede at Prabhadevi footbridge in which 23 people died, big promises and plans to improve infrastructure are yet to materialise and commuters continue to suffer.

mumbai Updated: Sep 28, 2018 15:19 IST
Kailash Korde
Kailash Korde
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
prabhadevi stampede,elphinstone road stampede,mumbai
The Elphinstone-­Lower Parel area has turned into a biz district, but the infrastructure to accommodate increasing commuters has not developed at the same pace.(Satish Bate/HT File Photo )

Jolted into action after the loss of 23 lives in the September 29 stampede, the railways announced a slew of infrastructure projects for Elphinstone Road (now Prabhadevi) and its adjacent station Parel.

But none has brought relief to commuters.

Here’s why – a 12-m-wide foot overbridge (FOB) connecting Parel to the end towards the Tulsi Pipe road was inaugurated in July, but it is yet to get a landing at Prabhadevi. Also, its lifts and escalators don’t work. While the bridge where the stampede took place has been widened, the work on extending the platform towards Dadar by 70m is incomplete, just like construction of the new ticket window adjacent to the newly built FOB, widening of the south-facing staircase of the common FOB between Parel and Prabhadevi and the demolition of the WR colony that is blocking the circulation area.

Infra need

Currently, more than three lakh commuters use Prabhadevi and Parel stations daily. With the transformation of surrounding areas to business district from mill lands, several malls, skyscrapers, and business parks came up in the area, adding to the pressure on the stations for cheaper and faster journey.

According to railway data, more than 77,000 commuters started their journey from Prabhadevi in 2017-18, while more than 25,000 from Parel. While the stations were built in the colonial era, the infrastructure did not grow adequately, which also emerged as one of the reasons behind the stampede that occurred as people waited under the shed for the rain to stop during morning peak hours. The incident led to several short- and long-term infrastructure development works at both the stations.

The western railway (WR) widened the staircase landing on priority, besides razing the elevated ticket booking office and shifting it downstairs to a makeshift container, while simultaneously clearing the encroachment on the railway land outside the station and improvement of circulating area.

No follow-up

Aiming to decongest the old south-end common FOB between Parel and Prabhadevi, former railway minister Suresh Prabhu approved a 12-m-wide FOB at the station. After a year-long delay, the railways ironically invited bids for the FOB on the day of the stampede. In the face of public outrage, WR finalised the tender in one day, only to keep the work pending till date.

The authorities are still not ready to give any deadline for the landing, which would need the platform to be extended towards Dadar-end by another 70m.

Western railway spokesperson Ravinder Bhakar said the new FOB will be given landing on Prabhadevi station platform by February 2019. “The new route relay interlocking (RRI) room is under construction and it will be shifted by November,” said Bhakar.

The circulating area [area leading to the station] at Prabhadevi is still to be decongested. A narrow road, coupled with vehicular movement, make it difficult for the commuters to walk freely.

Railway minister Piyush Goyal had suggested exploring the possibility of construction of a skywalk connecting the station from Tulsi Pipe road, but the authorities are to come up with a solution.

Some work done

The central railway (CR), however, opened the FOB in their jurisdiction in June, to give access to the newly built platform under Rs 51-crore Parel terminus project from the KEM hospital side. Even after two months, CR has not provided an escalator and lift. “We will soon provide lift and escalators at Parel. It just needs some civil work and safety clearances from the public works department. Separate platform and terminus have managed to divide the crowd,” said Sunil Udasi, chief spokesperson of CR.

The new FOB, along with a new platform that is used to run Dadar-bound slow trains, has eased the pressure on the staircase landing of the FOB towards the south-end, which used to earlier face a stampede-like situation. However, it still remains crowded during peak hours, as most prefer taking it owing to better connectivity.

Another commuter Sunita G, a nurse in a hospital at Parel, said, “The situation has improved. Earlier, it was scary.”

CR authorities have also relocated the food stalls and drinking water facility to avoid crowding, and shifted Dadar-bound trains to new platforms. CR officials said the work on Parel terminus is going on in full swing and will be completed by March. Along with a parking facility, the project will see the width of the old slow line platform being increased by 1.5 to 2 meters towards west. With trains originating at Parel, the pressure on Dadar station will be eased.

First Published: Sep 28, 2018 15:16 IST