Elphinstone stampede stirs Indian Railways and state govt. into action
The unfortunate death of 23 people in a stampede at the Elphinstone Road station in Mumbai finally stirred an otherwise lackadaisical Indian Railways into addressing concerns regarding passenger safety. In a 10 hour-long non stop session, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal met with high-level state government officials on Saturday to discuss the implementation of improved safety measures.
Goyal reportedly lambasted railway officials for the inadequacy of safety measures at the Elphinstone Road station, and called for cohesion in the functioning of the state government and its agencies. Senior railway officials said that a plan was being chalked out to expand the width of the foot-overbridge's (FOB) staircase from 2.1 metres to about 4.1 metres to accommodate the daily footfalls.
Goyal also approved the extension of 14 other FOBs on the Western Railway line. Meanwhile, the new FOB connecting Elphinstone Road and Parel is expected to be ready in a year, with the Indian Railways and the Bombay Municipal Corporation already chalking out plans for the same. Work on the Parel Terminus is also set to start soon, with the tender having already been floated.
Much of the work sanctioned by Goyal requires clearing up of railway land which has been encroached upon. For achieving the same, the Police Commissioner of Mumbai, Dattatray Padsalgikar, was also summoned and asked to take stern action to clear up railway land quickly. He was also tasked with rehabilitating those who would be displaced due to the clearing up of land.
Meanwhile, despite increasing criticism of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, the Union Railway Minister defended it. Goyal said that the bullet train project, one close to PM Modi's heart, was crucial for India's development. He stressed that the loan for the project came at zero interest, and that Japanese bullet train technology had an impeccable safety record.