Accusing railway officials of not paying heed to multiple warnings by commuters regarding the Parel foot overbridge (FOB) in Mumbai, the Congress on Monday said it was a “man-made tragedy” that occurred due to “criminal negligence”.
Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi showed to media persons several tweets by users who tagged then Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in their tweets showing overcrowding of the bridge and warning that a disaster was waiting to happen.
In August 2014, Lok Sabha MP from Mumbai South constituency Arvind Sawant had also written a letter to then Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda, seeking foot overbridges on Parel, Curry Road and Chinchpokli stations.
“Suresh Prabhu who took over from Sadananda Gowda replied to Sawant on February 20, 2016 where he acknowledged the demands made by the MP on behalf of his constituency. He blamed the ‘adverse effects of the global slowdown’ and said that despite that a ‘12-metre wide new FOB connecting Western Railway and Central Railway is under their positive consideration,” Singhvi said, quoting from the letter.
Despite that, the officials did not allocate adequate funds to renovate the Parel-Elphinstone bridge out of nearly Rs 12 crore that had been sanctioned by then Railway Minister Prabhu.
On September 29, around 10 a.m, in an unprecedented stampede 23 commuters, including eight women, were crushed to death and another 38 injured at Elphinstone Road station on the Western Railway.
“This is completely a man-made tragedy for which we demand political and administrative accountability. The people need answers from Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and former Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu,” Singhvi said.