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Elphinstone Road station tragedy: Tender for new bridge came same day as stampede

The toll from the incident during the morning rush hour on Friday on the overbridge connecting the Elphinstone Road and Parel stations in central Mumbai rose to 23 on Saturday.

Written by Neha Kulkarni | Mumbai | Updated: October 1, 2017 7:30 am
elphinstone stampede, mumbai stampede, elphinstone station stampede, mumbai stampede death toll, elphinstone road railway station, mumbai foot overbridge stampede, mumbai station stampede, Devendra Fadnavis, india news, Indian express At the spot of tragedy in Elphinstone station on Saturday morning. (Source: Express Photo by Nirmal Harindran)

A tender inviting bids for construction of a new foot overbridge at Elphinstone Road station was ironically floated soon after the stampede that turned the 45-year-old structure into the site of one of Mumbai’s worst tragedies, official records show.

The toll from the incident during the morning rush hour on Friday on the overbridge connecting the Elphinstone Road and Parel stations in central Mumbai rose to 23 on Saturday.

Former Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had approved the proposal for a new bridge on April 23, 2015, senior railway officials said. While detailed cost estimates were confirmed by the finance department of Western Railway on August 22 this year, the tender were uploaded online on September 29, the day of the stampede.

elphinstone stampede, mumbai stampede, elphinstone station stampede, mumbai stampede death toll, elphinstone road railway station, mumbai foot overbridge stampede, mumbai station stampede, Devendra Fadnavis, india news, Indian express Relatives of victims at the KEM Hospital. (Express Photo: Prashant Nadkar)

Railway officials said it was purely by coincidence that the tender was floated on the same day as the stampede.  Some were headed to work, others out shopping

“Making of a tender, finalising its commercial aspects and floating it online is a continuous process. It is by mere coincidence that the tender had to be floated online on the same day when the incident happened. It is equally unfortunate. Our tender was ready with the due permissions by September 22 itself,” Ravinder Bhaker, Chief Public Relations Officer, WR, said.

elphinstone stampede, mumbai stampede, elphinstone station stampede, mumbai stampede death toll, elphinstone road railway station, mumbai foot overbridge stampede, mumbai station stampede, Devendra Fadnavis, india news, Indian express The funeral of one of the victim of Elphinstone stampede – Teresa Fernandes at Portuguese church in Dadar on Saturday. (Express photo by Ganesh Tendulkar)

A K Gupta, General Manager, WR, said, “The competent authority had decided to float the tender on September 22 itself. The work includes not just the construction of FOB (foot overbridge) but also extension of platform and a few other technical changes. The uploading was delayed by a few days but the notice for tender was finally uploaded on the second half of Friday (September 29).”

Also read | Shiv Sena members attempt to attack KEM Hospital doctor over numbering of bodies

However, a senior WR official said on condition of anonymity, “Projects worth small amounts often do get sidelined. Funds are diverted to major projects, which are more visible to the public. The tender could have been delayed due to this reason.”

The new bridge is expected to be 12 metres wide, more than double the 5-metre width of the existing structure. Commuters have repeatedly complained of severe overcrowding on the existing bridge during the morning and evening rush hours. Piyush Goyal discusses mandatory FOBs, CCTV installation in Railway Board meet

The existing bridge was constructed in 1972, and is used by at least 1 lakh commuters on average daily. At a meeting chaired by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Saturday, proposals to widen 13 foot overbridges and build 10 new FOBs on WR were approved. Central Railway, too, will have 20 new FOBs in the coming days, railway officials said. Parel is on the CR line, while Elphinstone Road is on the WR line.

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  1. S
    S.Nagaraja Rao
    Oct 1, 2017 at 6:29 pm
    A tragic incident. Words are not sufficient to describe the ghastly incident. See how the bureaucracy has taken time to tender/ sanction/ approve it.Whichever party came to power it is the buraucrates have the saying/ruling the country. The day's govt also fallen prey to them. Now the parties are left in lurch fighting each other trying to blame each other .They are making politics over. This is murkier than any other thing. There is no improvement either in the accidents or incident like this, despite the change in minister. On every alternative day there is a derailment or accident in railways. So put to a stop, before going for any modernaisation of railways, pl .ensure the safety of passengers, their security thier lives which are precicious.Any compensation will be less. Can not asses the loss of life of the family for money. Govt should make analysis start work on war footing to improve the present railwys. Let us not indulge in blame game who ruled earier or now
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    1. K
      kamath Ramesh
      Oct 1, 2017 at 3:10 pm
      It is unfortunate that such tragedy took place while the modification work was about to start, though no justification for delaying the work for so long. Having said, if we go by past record this could be the earliest tendering after the sanction as it takes 5 to 10 years in most of the cases. The response of rail minister should also be appreciated who is trying to remove the red tape empowering the GMs to take necessary actions which used to get delayed due to interdepartmental involvement. Increasing the elevators, FOB, trains coaches etc are the welcome steps. In the 3 years bjp has done good work in railways like installing elevators, increasing the height of platform, reducing the gap between platform foot board, running new trains increasing the coaches, cleanliness in coaches stations, modernization of many stations, opening pvt windows vending m/c to reduce the long q lot more. But these few unfortunate accidents have marred the good work done.
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      1. J
        John Dsouza
        Oct 1, 2017 at 1:44 pm
        To build a pedestrian bridge it takes 23 deaths, bjp governance is like having a hawker type mentality. They have funds to purchase MLA's MP'S .
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        1. M
          Michelle:Vedic:human
          Oct 1, 2017 at 1:59 pm
          So what were the CONGIES doing the last 70yrs???,000jai hind.
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          1. K
            kamath Ramesh
            Oct 1, 2017 at 2:58 pm
            Before blaming bjp, at least blame congress once who did nothing under their rule. At least bjp had considered the request of people sanctioned the money as well it is unfortunate that this unexpected tragedy happened. Congress party has the worst record of all evils be it purchasing mlas or mps. Look at the pro active decisions rail minister is taking which we never saw during previous regimes.
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          2. V
            vasu
            Oct 1, 2017 at 1:17 pm
            Obviously, as the railway employees has secured job, they got little perturbed if they will have any vigilance enquire. Railway get 1.65 Lakhs crores revenue every year, they spend 1.10 Lakh Crores for wages and pension, are we running railways for welfare of this 13 lakh employees, what do they give us, filthy trains, filthy food, don't allow pvt parties to run train because of strong unions, filthy stations, filth every where.
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            1. V
              vasu
              Oct 1, 2017 at 1:14 pm
              Obviously, as the railway employees had secured job, got little perturbed if they will have any enquire. Railway get 1.65 Lakhs crores revenue every year, they spend 1.10 Crores for ry and pension, are we running railways for welfare of this 13 lakh employees, what do they give us, filthy trains, filthy food, don't allow compe ion, filthy stations, filth every where.
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