The Railways Ministry on Wednesday absolved itself of all responsibility in the Elphinstone Road Station bridge collapse in Mumbai that killed 23 people last month, blaming the weather gods instead for tragedy.
The committee, as reported by TOI, said that to protect themselves from the heavy rains passengers standing at the ticket counter at Elphinstone Road station rushed to the foot over bridge that was already overcrowded. The report not only blamed the heavy rains, but also stated crowd on the foot-over bridge too was responsible for the incident. A video footage of the incident was also examined.
The panel has recommended measures, including preventing people from carrying heavy luggage during the peak hours. The movement of commuters, mainly vendors, carrying baskets stuffed with goods during peak hours should also be restricted, it said.
A committee consisting of 5 Senior Administrative Grade Officers (Joint Secretary level) under the Presidentship of Chief Safety Officer, W.Rly, was formed to inquire into the incidence of stampede on north end FOB of Elphinstone Road Station on Mumbai Central - Dadar suburban section on 29/9/17.
The inquiry team also recommended a quick mode of communication apart from mobile phones to ensure shorter reaction time, including wireless handsets, for station and security staff.
The two-member committee would inquire why it had taken 18 months after the project was cleared to issue the tender, railway spokesperson Anil Saxena told PTI. More than 20 people were killed in the stampede.
The members of the panel include Vinayak Chatterjee, Chairman CII Economic Affairs council, Subodh Jain, former Member Engineering-rail board and director safety-rail board Pankaj Kumar.
"The committee concluded that the tragedy occurred due to a downpour and accumulation of commuters on the overbridge and the staircase around 10 a.m. on the fateful day", the CSO observed in his report.
Addressing a conference on railways, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said that he was pained at the 18 month delay in inviting tender for the bridge and called it a wakeup call for railway employees.