What caused Elphinstone stampede: 'Rains, rumors'; clean chit to rail officials

Passengers were caught in a stampede at Elphinstone railway station's foot over bridge in Mumbai

Passengers were caught in a stampede at Elphinstone railway station's foot over bridge in Mumbai

A high-level committee formed by the Railways to look into the September 29 stampede at Mumbai's Elphinstone Road railway station has given Railway officials a clean chit.

Addressing tyhe reporters Western Railways CPRO Ravinder Bhaskar said that "it has come in the inquiry that incident happened due to rumors of bridge collapse". The September 29 incident led to a wave of anger among commuters over poor railway infrastructureTeams of railway officials also examined photographs and video clips taken by those during the incident. The constant flow of passengers arriving at the station compounded the problem, he added.

The report said that after a few passengers carrying heavy luggage lost their balance the stampede got triggered.

The probe said none of the witnesses supported the claim that the chaos was caused by a short circuit on the bridge.

The report has recommended that during peak hours passengers should not be allowed to carry heavy luggage at the local train stations. The tragedy occurred on Saturday when the overbridge, linking Elphinstone Road and Parel suburban stations, was overcrowded as people took shelter from rain.

Other recommendations by the panel include relocating the elevated booking office to widen the staircase, which is now located adjacent to it.

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Meanwhile, the state-run transporter has set up an expert panel to probe into the 18- month delay in issuing tender for widening of a FOB at the Elphinstone Road station.

More than 30 people were injured in the stampede.

"The committee has been given three months to submit its report", Saxena said.

As the transporter was slammed for laxity and delays in construction of new FoB at Elphinstone station after the tragedy, Railway Board made a decision to constitute an expert committee, headed by former Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) Pratyush Sinha, to inquire into the reasons for delay in the whole process and suggest ways and means to ensure that such delays can be minimised in future.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has said that he was "pained" that the tender for the new bridge was not floated on time despite being approved.

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