Western Railway report blames rain for stampede at the Elphinstone-Parel bridge

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The report by a five-member team headed by the Western Railway (WR) Chief Security Officer (CSO) probing the September 29 stampede at the Elphinstone-Parel bridge states that the stampede was caused due to panic. The WR has also said that they will be providing a walkie-talkie hotline to the station master, Railway Protection Force and Government Railway Police personnel on duty to deal with such crisis situations.

A recent press release by the WR said that the committee had come to a conclusion that the stampede happened because of the sudden downpour of heavy rains coupled with the accumulation of a large number of commuters on the foot over-bridge around 10 am. The situation reportedly worsened when someone shouted, “phool padla”, in reference to a flower vendor dropping a bunch of flowers, but being misinterpreted as “pool padla”, referring to the bridge’s collapse.

Speaking about the walkie-talkies being provided to the railway and police personnel, said, “The on-duty station master, RPF and GRP personnel will have to make sure that they keep each other in loop. The walkie-talkies will help them in patrolling and knowing each other’s location.”

The railway ministry orders enquiry into the 18-month delay of issuing tender for the Elphinstone Road Bridge. The WR press release stated that the issue of notice inviting tender for the FOB took about 18 months and that the railway board has decided to constitute a high level expert committee to inquire into the delay in the process and suggest ways to prevent such delays. The committee will be headed by Pratyush Sinha, Retd Chief Vigilance Commissioner with Vinayak Chatterjee, Chairman CII Economic Affairs Council, and Subodh Jain, Retd Member Engineering, Railway Board as members and current Director Safety, Rly Board, Shri Pankaj Kumar as Member Secretary. They have been asked to submit the report in three months.