Piyush Goyal orders safety and capacity audit for Mumbai foot-overbridges

Railway minister Piyush Goyal said he has ordered a ‘safety and capacity’ audit of all foot-overbridges in Mumbai.

The order comes in the wake of the death of around 25 people in a stampede on a narrow foot-overbridge in the Elphinstone station.

He also said that the Railways will give Rs 5 lakh as compensation to the relatives of all dead people. Injured people will be given Rs 1 lakh and those with minor injuries will be given Rs 50,000.

The Railway compensation of Rs 5 lakh each is in addition to an equivalent compensation announced by the Maharashtra government.

Goyal, who took over charge of the railway minister recently after former minister Suresh Prabhu expressed his desire to move out, said he was committed to ensuring safe and fast travel facilities to the people of Mumbai.

The suburban railways of Mumbai is the primary way for people to get from A to B in Mumbai, India’s most thickly populated city.

Elphinstone railway station near Parel has seen an unprecedented increase in traffic in the last five years due to the construction of several skyscrapers in the area.

Plots in area, which used to be full of textile mills, were recently won by big real estate companies such as Indiabulls, who put up office buildings with 20 or even 30 floors, increasing the number of people who worked in the area several fold.

However, the railway station continued to remain unchanged despite the huge increase in traffic.

The Elphinstone station, for example, had only one entry-cum-exit point that is about three feet wide. Hundreds of people try to push through in a couple of minutes during rush hour.

Against a capacity of around 10-15 people at a time, the bridge usually carries about 500 people at a time during office peak hours.

The station is surrounded by railway tracks on all sides, which limited Railways’ options in dealing with the traffic.

A railway official said a 12-meter wide foot overbridge was sanctioned to connect the platform with the adjoining Parel station — which had an opening to a road on one side. The FOB was proposed in 2015 and sanctioned in 2016.

It is currently under tendering, he said.