Mumbai stampede was a disaster waiting to happen
The reaction of survivors and other commuters to Mumbai’s stampede tragedy was the same — this was a disaster waiting to happen.
The number of commuters at Elphinstone and Parel stations has grown exponentially in the past few years, but this has been overlooked by railway authorities, despite repeated complaints.
Raghoba Khanalkar, who takes the route daily, said: “I have time and again complained about the rush at this foot overbridge (FOB). I’m a cancer patient and travel every day to Tata Memorial for treatment. Once, I collapsed due to lack of oxygen because of overcrowding. Railway authorities told me people have to deal with the situation.”
HT had reported how railway authorities had ignored the overcrowding at the Elphinstone and Parel FOB constantly from 2012. As part of HT’s Unclog Mumbai series, the problem of narrow bridges leading to a daily stampede-like situation was highlighted on December 8, 2015.
Nearly three lakh passengers commute daily from both the stations that primarily serve the erstwhile Girangaon or mill land area. Besides a substantial officegoing population, these stations also have a footfall of patients and families visiting nearby KEM and Tata Memorial hospitals.
After complaints, the former railway minister had proposed a parallel FOB to the one where tragedy struck. But so far, no work has started on the proposal.
The demand for expansion of the FOB is in the wings since 2009. Lata Argade, vice-president of suburban railway passenger association, said they raised the issue in 2011, but no action was taken. The Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation undertook a detailed study of overcrowding at railway stations and FOBs in 2013, but this did not include these two stations. The situation on the FOB stretch gets worse when hawkers are sitting in between and there is no place left for commuters.
Sadly, it took 22 deaths for authorities to promise immediate action and expand the FOB.