Express News Service
MUMBAI: The Shiv Sena lost no time and minced no words to blame the stampede at the Elphinstone Road railway station on the state and central governments, in which it is a partner.
"The stampede was a public massacre for which the government and railways are responsible," the Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut said. "We have time and again demanded that old and dilapidated foot-overbridges be redeveloped but no action was taken."
Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant showed a letter written to him by the then railway minister Suresh Prabhu in February 2016 assuring him that work on widening the foot-overbridge at Elphinstone would be undertaken soon.
In the letter dated February 20, 2016, Suresh Prabhu had written to Sawant that the "construction of 12 m wide new foot-overbridge at Elphinstone Road was under the positive consideration of the Railway Ministry."
Construction of the new bridge, connecting Western Railway and Central Railway after the extension of platform no. 1 and 2 towards the north side by 100 m was under "positive consideration" of the Ministry, Prabhu had written in the letter.
The Congress and the NCP too piled on after the disaster, questioning the propriety of the Prime Minister's bullet train dream while commuter safety on local trains was in such a poor state. The demanded that Narendra Modi should apologise to the people of Mumbai for providing absolutely no infrastructure development in the city over the past three years.
Congress spokesperson Sushmita Dev alleged that the PM had misplaced priorities and said "real solutions" was what the railway network needed at present. “While the PM is spending huge sums of money on bullet trains, he has little funds to improve basic infrastructure,” she said.
The Congress leader pointed out that the Central Railway had in 2015 accepted that the heritage bridge linking Parel and Elphinstone Road station was ‘structurally weak’ and had decided to direct the footfall to the another foot-overbridge that connects Dadar to Parel.
Slamming the government for hiking railway tariff by 70 per cent over the past three years, Sushmita Dev said 259 passengers have been killed, 973 injured in 29 major railway accidents since 2014.
“Around 1.42 lakh posts of safety staff remain unfilled across India, which, experts say, is a major concern and clear case of official apathy,” Dev said.