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Mumbai: Officials keep eye on crowd on foot overbridge during rains

On September 29, 2017, commuters had gathered on the foot overbridge and staircase at Parel to take shelter from the rain when tragedy struck.

Mumbai |
June 12, 2018 6:24:06 am
Mumbai: Officials keep eye on crowd on foot overbridge during rains The Parel-Elphinstone Road foot overbridge. (Express file)

Written by Dhruv Johri

After a stampede claimed 23 lives last year, the task of managing crowd movement at the congested Parel-Elphinstone Road foot overbridge may seem daunting at first for six officials of the Maharashtra Security Force (MSF), but officials claimed they are fully equipped to handle rush during rains this year.

On September 29, 2017, commuters had gathered on the foot overbridge and staircase at Parel to take shelter from the rain when tragedy struck.

A senior MSF official said, this year, while the railways have ordered additional security and equipment, including ropes and speakers, to keep commuters from stopping at one place, convincing people is not easy.

“The station sees immense crowd between 8 and 9 am on weekdays. On days when it rains heavily, we ask the crowd to use the other bridge made by the Army. But many are in a hurry, so they don’t budge,” he added.

Mumbai witnessed its pre-monsoon showers last week followed by heavy downpour on Saturday, officials whistled to streamline the crowd. Limiting crowd movement using a rope, officials ensured the pack moved in a single line.

Gaurav Lakhpati, a senior official of the Railway Protection Force, said, “After we partitioned stairs, on both sides of Parel and Elphinstone Road station, crowd climbing up the bridge and getting down from it was divided. This has helped divide crowd movement at the staircase.”

The officials also widened the staircase at the Elphinstone Road station, which witnessed stampede last year. The ticket window at the staircase was shifted to allow more space for commuters to walk. What puzzles many, like MSF officials, is the little use of the bridge made by the military wing of Bombay Engineering and Group Centre, Pune, who constructed the bridge at north end of Parel station to connect to phool market in the west.

S Hari, a tea seller at Parel, feels setting up another tea stall close to the army bridge could hardly bring him revenue. “Very few people use the other bridge during peak hours. Setting a stall anywhere near the bridge would be a futile exercise.”

Ramakant Patil, a regular commuter between Parel and Elphinstone Road stations, said, “Since the staff has starting guarding the crowd movement, we move in a disciplined manner. But things could only improve after Parel receives a third bridge that will extend to Elphinstone Road. This will surely divide the crowd.”

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