A 2016 report on Indian Railways by Comptroller of Auditor General (CAG) had cautioned the Centre over weak foot overbridges (FOBs) and pointed out that 6,000 deaths occur annually due to trespassing in Mumbai alone. However, the railways ministry did not act upon the report.
The report’s observations have come to the fore after 22 passengers lost their lives on Elphinstone bridge due to stampede on Friday morning.
The report had sad that the size of FOBs on Mumbai’s suburban railway network were also not in line with prevalent global standards. “One FOB of six meter width was required to be provided at all suburban stations. It was observed that FOBs of the prescribed size had not been provided at all at five stations (sic),” the report read.
At a few places, the report noted, FOBs were not even built, which led to 15,000 deaths — 6,000 deaths in Mumbai alone — annually due to crossing of tracks. “Indian Railways in its Citizen’s Charter made a commitment to provide safe and dependable train services to passengers. The report 4 submitted (February 2012) to the minister of railways stated that out of the 15,000 deaths every year on the Railway system, about 6,000 deaths are on Mumbai suburban system only. Such large numbers of deaths were mainly attributed to unlawful trespassing. The report further stated that trespassing takes place mainly on account of lack of barricading, fencing, inadequate number of pedestrian overbridges and reluctance to replace pedestrian level crossings with FOBs,” the report read.
The CAG also questioned the lack of basic facilities and insufficient booking counters at stations. “There was a shortfall in provision of booking counters as per norms under Minimum Essential Amenities at 51 stations,” it read.