18-month delay in issuing tender for new FOB at Elphinstone may have cost 23 lives

18-month delay in issuing tender for new FOB at Elphinstone may have cost 23 lives
The committee probing the delay will submit its report in three months (Picture Courtesy: Atul Jain)

A high-level committee has been setup to probe the excruciatingly long 18-month delay in issuing the tender for the new foot-over bridge at Elphinstone Road station, which could have possibly helped avert the stampede that led to 23 deaths last month.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal formed the high-level committee which will be led by former Chief Vigilance Commissioner Pratyush Sinha.

According to Railway Ministry Spokesperson Anil Saxena, the committee will probe why there was delay in giving tender for the new foot-over bridge despite sanction for the work 18 months ago. The committee will submit its report in three months.

“The committee will also give suggestions/recommendations on preventing such accidents in future,” he added.

Saxena said the committee includes Railway Board Member (Infrastructure) Vinayak Chatterjee, former Railway Board Member (Engineering) Subodh Jain, and the Railway Board Safety Director.

Incidentally, former Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had assured a Shiv Sena MP last year that a wider bridge would be built in place of the existing one.

In a letter dated February 20, 2016, Prabhu had written to Sena MP from Mumbai Arvind Sawant that the “construction of 12 meters wide new foot overbridge at Elphinstone Road was under the positive consideration of Railway Ministry.”

Ironically, the tender for the already sanctioned foot-over bridge was floated on September 29, the same day 23 persons were killed and over 35 others injured in a stampede at Elphinstone Road.

Railways had sanctioned Rs 9.5 crore for the project.

On Wednesday, an official enquiry into the cause of the stampede concluded, with the committee blaming heavy rainfall and panic for the tragic incident.

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