Every time that I have spoken to non-Mumbaikars about their Mumbai local train memories, I have laughed at their horrified faces and scary experiences. Experiences of being cramped, elbowed, pushed aside, feeling breathless and their irritation with all kinds of sweat on their bodies. “How do you do it?” they would ask, exasperated. I would have one answer to these accusations, “You just need some practice and some good train friends”.
We have a sense of pride that the struggles of travelling in a local train and running between platforms have made us tougher. Truth be told, the infrastructure in Mumbai is crumbling! Today’s Elphinstone Road station stampede was bound to happen. We all have had that feeling of teaming crowds at railway stations turning into stampedes at some point in time.
The government officials have yet again decided to blame the rains. Unsurprisingly, they haven’t taken into consideration the fact that Elphinstone Road station is used by both the Central and Western railway passengers and in fact, the footbridge is in poor condition and is extremely inadequate.
Changing names prioritized over improving infrastructure
Time and again, political parties, Bombay elitists and municipal corporation bodies have debated over the necessity of changing names of railway stations. A lot of moolah has been invested in getting these names changed. To what end? Nothing more than some party brandishing the name changes in the garb of being sons of the soil. Why doesn’t human life take precedence? Why do passenger safety and security issues never seem to have sufficient backing of funds? Why is changing railway station names prioritized over improving infrastructure? How many railway accidents have we to endure before action is taken? Why are passenger complaints ignored?
A small rumour claims 22 lives and seriously injures at least 39
A short-circuit near the bridge and loud noise led to people panicking and running. It seems like any small rumour is sufficient to claim lives. It was again the people who rushed to help those stuck in the stampede. While many people were being rescued, many laid on the bridge unconscious. Most of those injured were taken to KEM hospital in cars, ambulances and police vans.
Nothing more than a blame game
Will this incident too end up with political parties throwing mud at each other? Neither Shiv Sena nor BJP has taken up any responsibility for this mishap. What people are hoping to see is some form of accountability and not an intensive enquiry after the mishap has happened.
Do we really need bullet trains and name changes when the current state of infrastructure is literally killing people who are grappling to commute for their daily bread? What we need are wider bridges, proper emergency exits, additional footbridges and trained railway officials for efficient crowd management.
Share your thoughts with us. If you have had such experiences, let us know what safety measures could individual passengers take to protect themselves in a stampede.