Indian army steps in to build new foot over bridge at Elphinstone Road station, move invites criticism 

Union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Piyush Goyal visited the station today, a month after the tragic stampede on the Elphinstone Road station foot over bridge which left 23 people dead.

Published: 31st October 2017 11:47 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st November 2017 08:15 AM   |  A+A-

A photograph of the stampede at Elphinstone railway station's foot over bridge in Mumbai | PTI

By Express News Service

MUMBAI: The Indian army will help construct a new foot overbridge (FOB) at the Elphinstone Road station, where 23 people died in a stampede on the bridge on September 29, announced Maharshtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis during a visit to the station along with defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and railway minister Piyush Goyal. 

Two other bridges will also be rebuilt at other suburban train stations in Mumbai, the railway minister said. The construction of the new FOB at the Elphinstone Road stations is said to get completed by January 31, 2018.

“We are taking the Army’s help in building a new FOB at the Elphinstone road station to ensure the completion of the work at the earliest,” Fadnavis said. 

The defence minister said that this was probably the first time the Army was asked to come in to build what could otherwise be called civil work, but the Elphinstone tragedy was that big.

She added, “A call was taken to cooperate seeing the urgency of the matter as the Army has its role at the borders.”

Based on a multidisciplinary audit of the various railway stations, the railway minister highlighted the urgent need to develop passengers’ amenities at certain railway stations. “We have decided to utilise military precision to speed up the work of bridges,” Goyal said. 

The decision to take help from the Indian army for the construction of FOB for three railway stations in Mumbai invited criticism from many other opposition leaders, pointing the construction work a job of civilian worker and not of the forces. 

“The Army’s job is to train for wars, not to be used for civilian works. Don’t divert defence resources to civilian jobs,” said Punjab CM Amarinder Singh in tweet directing to the defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Meanwhile, Former CM of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah said, “The army was to be measure of last resort to be called upon in extreme emergency. Now it seems like it’s the 1st number on the speed dial.”

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