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Stampede at Elphinstone do to heavy rains and rumours: WR

Thursday, October 12, 2017
By Priyanka Dhomse

The Western Railway (WR) Authorities have finally opened up about the horrifying stampede that occurred at the Elphinstone Station on September 29. A committee was formed under the Chief Safety Officer of the WR to enquire into the incident which left 23 dead and injured 38. According to an official, the committee has examined all the matters pertaining to the incident including  statements received from the witnesses, and written statements  of the injured persons, Railway officials of Elphinstone Road Station and analysis of footages of all the CCTV cameras installed at the station including, those located on the Foot Over Bridge (FOB).

On the basis of the report that they submitted, they have allegedly chosen to take an escape route and are now playing the blame game, stating that it was due to the over crowding and accumulation of passengers on the FOB in order to get shelter from rains and rumours that led to the unpleasant and disturbing event.

According to the officials from the Western Railway, they have also alleged that system failure was also one of the reasons behind the worsening of the situation, so no WR authority or Department of Railway can be blamed. Going by the report that was submitted by the Enquiry Committee post their enquiry, it states that the stampede occurred between 10:15 am and 10:24 am. Apart from all the other factors that they have allegedly pointed out, they also stated that the situation could have further aggravated when a flower vendor dropped a flower which led to him shouting, "Majha phool padla". Some commuters mistook the word “phool” for “pull”9 (which is bridge in Marathi. This may have possibly triggered panic and led to stampede. As soon as the Railway official was aware, he immediately informed the station manager who called for an ambulance around 10:30 am.

In order to avoid the occurrence of such a situation in the future, the Enquiry Committee members have collectively come up with recommendations and these are to be followed at each and every station. “Busy stations like Dadar, Virar, Charni Road and Nalasopara witness major issue due to  narrow FOBs and platforms, especially during peak hours. In order to have proper co-ordination, railway officials, GRP, RPF and the Station Managers will have walkie- talkies to keep each other informed about  on going activities and situations on each and every point of a Railway Station. They also want to impart them proper crowd control and management training,” said Ravinder Bhakar, Chief Public Relation Officer, Western Railway.  

The FOB and bridge widening being two major recommendations on the Elphinstone Road Station, Bhakar also spoke about the shifting of ticket booking office  to ground level and said, “A proper study will be carried in order to shift the booking office and will be implemented accordingly, which will  consider a particular period of time. Hence, commuters carrying heavy  luggage will be restricted from using FOBs during peak hours.”

“Another survey carried by the Audit Team will give clear study of each station on the Western Railway and accordingly the changes will be implemented on all 36 suburban stations of WR. The report of the same is likely to be announced within two to three days,” said Bhakar.
 

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