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Mumbai Stampede Aftermath: Piyush Goyal Cracks The Whip On Railways

Mumbai:  Hours after a stampede left 22 dead and 39 others injured, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal today ordered a slew of initiatives to ensure commuters’ safety and security on the Mumbai suburban network, officials said.

Holding a series of meetings with high-ranking officials of the Western Railway and Central Railway, he ordered setting up of multi-disciplinary teams to visit and inspect all suburban stations and identify areas of concern.

The teams would identify critical locations prone to similar situations and draw up suitable action plans to tackle them.

Ongoing works on foot overbridges (FOBs) at various stations would be completed on a war-footing and more FOBs would be immediately planned out at other stations where passenger traffic is high.

Mr Goyal also directed the railways to draw up plans for all suburban stations to upgrade their electronic surveillance by installing CCTVs in a time-bound manner.

The railways will be required to resolve within one week all their pending issues with other agencies like the Maharashtra government, municipal corporation, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority and City and Industrial Development Corporation.

Mr Goyal said any concessions required to accommodate space constraints at railway platforms would be sorted out immediately.

There are some 135 stations on the entire suburban network, comprising WR, CR and the Harbour Line, spread across Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad districts, catering to over eight million commuters daily.

The distances covered are up to 123 km on the WR from its starting point, Churchgate and more than 70 km on the CR in different directions from the starting point, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.

The two networks share one common railway station, Dadar, which is considered the busiest and most congested on the entire suburban network.

The minister’s directions came in the wake of a stampede which killed 22 commuters, including eight women, at the WR’s Elphinstone Road station bridge connecting with Parel on the CR, around 10:20 at the morning peak hour rush of office-bound commuters.

Late this evening, the WR announced that then Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had cleared the proposal to construct a new FOB costing Rs 6.75 crore, running parallel to the existing bridge which was the site of the tragedy today and tender documents were readied this month.

Earlier today, Shiv Sena parliamentarian Rahul Shewale said he had demanded widening of the bridge in a letter to Mr Prabhu in April 2015, but it was rejected citing lack of funds and operational constraints.