The first working day after Friday's stampede, which left 23 dead at Elphinstone Road station, saw commuters back on track, packing the narrow foot overbridge. However, anger and resentment was evident. "We have no option but to be ready for any eventuality," said Soni Gupta, a Vitthalwadi resident who uses the Elphinstone FOB on her way to work. "People are angry but helpless," said Gupta, who lost her friend Shraddha Varpe in the incident.
Commuters get off the staircase where 23 people died in a stampede last week. Pics/ Suresh Karkera
Following the incident, a sizeable number of policemen and RPF officials were deployed on both Parel and Elphinstone FOBs. An RPF constable, however, said that people weren't cooperating with the police. "We are angry and upset," said an unimpressed Gupta. "Policemen are simply loitering around. They are not managing the crowd."
"If the police are deployed regularly, they can direct commuters to use other FOBs, which are less crowded. I don't feel safe anymore," said commuter Rashmi Mali, who travels from Kanjurmarg every day. Prabhadevi resident Deepak Shukla, 32, a practising advocate at Bombay High Court, said that the population and floating crowd in the area has increased several folds in the past few years. "Authorities turned a blind eye to this and didn't bother improving existing infrastructure," said Shukla, who lost his friend Ankush Jaiswal in the incident. He added, "Some people say that commuters are irresponsible and are always in a rush. They don't understand that if we don't reach office on time, we won't get our salaries."
Police presence on the foot overbridge that was woefully missing on the day of the tragedy last week
He suggested that the state government come up with ideas to suggest private sector policies that keep in mind the hurdles and challenges that employees face while commuting.
Bandra resident Nagesh Dhhotre, who is employed with a private firm at Elphinstone Road, said, "I have been using the Elphinstone FOB for 10 years. The authorities are doing nothing for commuters. They have left us to die. We have no alternative, but to use this death trap."
Crowd at the station platform this morning
Commuters also pointed to the shortage of FOBs at the station, and said that the plan to introduce new bridges within a year's time has come too late in the day. Parel's only used FOB is so dangerous that passengers feel it safer to cross railway tracks.
Authorities fail to realise the seriousness of the issue," said Sharad Kadam, 43.
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