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Elphinstone Road stampede aftermath: Maharashtra govt, railways scramble to 'fast track' safety, improve infrastructure

In the aftermath of a stampede on a foot-over bridge at the Elphinstone Road suburban railway station in Mumbai, that led to the loss of 23 lives and left 37 injured, the Maharashtra government and the railway administration have sprung into action after facing flak from all corners.

The Maharashtra cabinet on Tuesday set up a sub-committee, which will coordinate with the agencies and departments concerned to put in place necessary passenger facilities at suburban stations in and around Mumbai.

This is the second such committee to be appointed just days after the stampede. The sub-committee will “take measures to prevent mishaps like the stampede” and will look into upgrading amenities on the suburban railway stations.

At least 23 people were killed in the stampede at Elphinstone Road station. PTI

At least 23 people were killed in the stampede at Elphinstone Road station. PTI

According to a Hindustan Times report, the move came after Shiv Sena ministers met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday and demanded a committee to monitor projects. The sub-committee members will be appointed in two days, a senior government official said.

"The decision to form a sub-committee was taken to ensure that incidents like the stampede at the foot overbridge linking Elphinstone Road and Parel railway stations, in which 23 people lost their lives, does not recur," the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) said in a statement.

The sub-committee will coordinate with various agencies and take a review of the railway stations, foot overbridges (FOBs) and places where there is a huge footfall, it said.

"It will also suggest remedies for the persisting problems at the suburban railway stations in Mumbai," the CMO added.

The leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde had earlier demanded that a special session of the state legislature be convened to discuss the problems faced by suburban railway commuters.

The sub-committee is along the lines of the multi-disciplinary committee headed by state education minister Vinod Tawde. According to the Hindustan Times report, Tawde, who is the also the guardian minister of Mumbai suburbs, will chair a meeting once a month to review the works related to foot overbridges, removing hawkers and ease entry and exit points in and around station premises.

The meeting will be attended by all the five commissioners of municipal bodies and the commissioners of Mumbai Police and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), both the general managers of Central and Western Railways, the report said.

'Safety on fast track'

Taking stock of the situation hours after the stampede, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had announced a safety and capacity audit of all FOBs on the suburban train network.

"A complete safety and capacity audit of all the FOBs across the suburban train network will be conducted," he said.

"Normally, it takes 20 days to come out with the report, but for the auditing purpose of all the FOBs, we need to send technical experts and I guess that within 20 days we will have the audit reports of all the FOBs of the suburban trains," the minister added.

Goyal said the railways would expedite improvement in suburban train services "on highest priority".

"I have come to know that the official procedure to widen the ill-fated bridge was underway. The budget was sanctioned only last year and the tendering process was underway, but unfortunately, this most tragic incident unfolded today," he told reporters.

Goyal said that foot over bridges, earlier considered only a "passenger amenity", would now be a "mandatory" aspect of all the railway stations in the country.

The announcement came after marathon meetings held by the minister with senior railway board officials since Friday. "We are turning a 150-year-old convention on its head, hereafter, foot overbridges will be deemed mandatory not a passenger amenity (sic)," Goyal had tweeted.

In a statement released after a high-level meeting on Saturday, the railways also said in order to enhance its monitoring mechanism, CCTV cameras would be installed in all the suburban trains in Mumbai within 15 months and subsequently, across the country.

He had also ordered an inquiry by the Chief Safety Officer of the Western Railway.

Apart from the BMC, officials of Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC), Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC), Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation (VVMC), Mira-Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC), the Government Railway Police (GRP) and Mumbai Police are involved in the exercise, a senior railway official said.

"These teams would do a multidisciplinary audit of 36 suburban stations of the WR and 76 stations of the CR. They will study the problem of trespassing, the requirement of extension of FOBs or skywalks, the requirement of lifts or escalators,"

"They will also identify the waterlogging prone areas and look at the issues of crowd management and hawkers," chief public relations officer (CPRO) of the CR Sunil Udasi said.

The teams will click photos and capture videos of the site, if required, and submit the reports to the divisional railway heads within a week. These issues will be taken up further at the higher level, he added.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Oct 04, 2017 13:51 PM

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