In the first of a multi-part series that will audit our railway stations and other public places, we find out what ails the crucial station that straddles both Western and Central lines
The Elphinstone Road stampede that killed 23 has put the focus firmly on the safety of citizens in Mumbai's public places. But is it just one station? Starting with other stations in both lines, we audited several public places to see how safe they are.
Platform 1 on Dadar's CR side is a death trap according to commuters
Dadar station has been crying for a uniform upgrade. And one would say it was about time a long time ago, what with it being one of Mumbai's most crowded stations, where meet Central and Western Railways, both zones independently upgrading their sides as per availability of space and funds. Commuters say it needs a comprehensive makeover.
Commuters crowd on the staircase that leads up to the FOB connecting the station's CR and WR sides
The railways recently built more foot overbridges with escalators for easy connectivity, also linking them to the arterial vehicular Tilak Bridge. However, easy access from western side is blocked due to the construction of a flyover, converting the station road into a narrow alley full of hawkers. Dadar WR has also blocked several entry-exit points to platform one, making it a trap.
The main foot overbridge that connects to the two sides
"The station needs a makeover as a whole. Both the Central and Western Railways have six to seven platforms each in addition to a terminus on both lines on the north side. However, crowding is more at the south end, which railways has failed to develop," said Shashikant Sonar, a resident of Dadar.
The area between Dadar CR and WR is a no-man's land with all kinds of activities going on there, right from a godown of hawkers to a number of encroachments. In fact, it's a railway colony having a few union members and police offices, but with zero monitoring, it's haphazard, encroached and congested.
Platforms themselves are cluttered with so many amenities that there is no space to walk or stand. On CR, platform 1 is a virtual death trap - it gets so crowded during peak hours that the sea of commuters appears to spill over.
Ideally, a double-discharge platform here will solve the issue, but plans have been gathering dust, nearly impossible to execute due to railway structures on the other side. On platforms three and four, several bridge landings, canteens, khomchas, and other items, namely water filters, can be seen jostling for space, leaving barely any for commuters. Decluttering these two platforms will solve half the problem, as outstation as well as local trains take turns to arrive there, and passengers for both add to the chaos.
"WR's platform one is in a similar condition, its exits blocked, having almost eight to nine canteens, fruit juice stalls and khomchas. Are so many required on one platform? These along with bookstalls, water filters, bridge landings and what not have turned the actual standing space for commuters into a mere strip. Don't railway officials see all this?" fumed Parel resident Sandip Shah.
Voices of woe
Jagdeep Desai, architect
'The area in the middle of both sides can be redesigned. But the main problem is access and egress to and from these sides. Crowd management is lacking, and entry and exit points are blocked by hawkers, taxis, etc. WR terminus is isolated and neglected. Comprehensive redesigning is needed to give barrier-free and safe accessibility'
Milind Panchal, Parel resident and activist
'If the railways does a reality check of the area between the two sides of Dadar, it can help to improve the station's utility in a big way. Dadar CR platform one is a death trap; officials need to look at building an alternative fast. A double-discharge platform with entry-exit points on two sides and bridge landings will help immensely'
>> Blocked exits on the western side
>> Too many utilities on platforms
>> Skeletal infrastructure on south ends of termini
>> The encroached area between CR and WR, a hub of illegal activities
>> Zero monitoring of the BMC foot overbridge connecting east and west
Sunil Udasi, CR chief spokesperson
'A multi-disciplinary team consisting of senior officers from engineering, commercial and security departments of railways, apart from Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation officials and Mumbai Police personnel, have done a detailed study of Dadar station. Necessary remedial steps will soon be taken and executed based on their report'
Ravinder Bhaker, WR chief spokesperson
'To create more space on platforms, we are planning to remove some food stalls, as these attract crowds, causing congestion during peak hours. We need to ensure faster dispersal and passenger movement. A concept - Multi-Purpose Stall - has already been approved by the Railway Board and is under consideration'
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