Mumbai: Another Elphinstone-like disaster averted in Malad

Oct 06, 2017, 19:41 IST | Suraj Ojha

It's only been a week since the Elphinstone Road stampede, which claimed 23 lives, but it seems our state and civic authorities are yet to learn a lesson

It's only been a week since the Elphinstone Road stampede, which claimed 23 lives, but it seems our state and civic authorities are yet to learn a lesson.

Local residents near the Hanuman temple behind which the tree collapsedLocal residents near the Hanuman temple behind which the tree collapsed

Recently, in order to ease commuter movement, the BMC had served notices to shops with illegal extensions near stations. Last evening, civic officials reached outside Malad railway station to demolish illegal shades in at least 10 shops, which had not been dismantled by the owners. However, lack in planning the demolition drive led to a stampede-like situation when a tree collapsed on the road and the panicked crowd started running towards SV Road to escape injury.

The tree fall
According to sources, the incident took place around 8 pm. Local resident, Kamlesh Bhil said, "The area was already packed with people when the BMC officials arrived for demolition work. The officials had barely razed a few illegal shades when an old tree collapsed behind the Hanuman temple and fell on the road. The crashing sound is what caused panic among commuters, who ran towards SV Road to escape injury. Given the number of people on the road at that time, it's a miracle that nobody was injured."

Poor planning
Miffed with how the civic authorities handled the demolition drive, another local resident said, "If the BMC has to demolish structures during peak hours, why not barricade the road around it?"

Consequently, a crane was called in to remove the tree and clear the road, locals said.

The tree collapsed outside Malad station around 8 pm. Pics/Pradeep DhivarThe tree collapsed outside Malad station around 8 pm. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar

Incidentally, in the backdrop of the September 29 tragedy, the railway administration had yesterday launched a drive to evict illegal hawkers from all entry and exit points of stations as well as from foot overbridges. Yesterday, AK Jain, senior PRO of Central Railway, said, "Cops have been asked to deal strictly with these shop owners."

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