Mum­bai stam­pede was a dis­as­ter wait­ing to hap­pen

Hindustan Times (Bathinda) - - NEWS - Aroosa Ahmed aroosa.ahmed@hin­dus­tan­

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.

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