Is Santacruz station another Elphinstone Road in the making?

Nov 02, 2018, 07:39 IST | Shailesh Bhatia

Closure of two foot overbridges at the Santacruz station - one full, one partial - has swelled daily crowd at the station to dangerous proportions

Is Santacruz station another Elphinstone Road in the making?
The stairway that exits on to the road is always packed to capacity, with much pushing and shoving during peak hours

Santacruz station is hurtling down the Elphinstone Road tragedy path with a stampede just around the corner. With one foot overbridge shut for repairs, another open only partially due to ongoing work, and a third connecting to a narrow zig-zag lane, the station is utterly ill-equipped to handle the peak-hour rush.

Concerned commuters
A regular commuter, Susham Shewale, 50, who runs a catering business, said the situation is getting worse by the day, as holiday crowd has been adding to the problem. "It takes commuters more than 15 minutes to squeeze through the sea of humans to even reach the nearest platform. The middle bridge was taken up for repairs many months ago... Even before opening it completely for the public, the bridge towards Churchgate was shut for repairs, on September 12.

The jam on the staircase is reminiscent of the Elphinstone Road crowding that led to a stampede
The jam on the staircase is reminiscent of the Elphinstone Road crowding that led to a stampede

In such a scenario, overcrowding is inevitable," he added. Another commuter, Hils Chavan, pointed out that the only fully functional bridge leads to a gully on the eastern side, where "people are packed like sardines in a can". "The biggest problem is for women, who end up being sandwiched in the slow-moving crowd. Also, squabbles between commuters is common, as everyone is in a rush to catch trains," Chavan added.

Confirming the excessive load on existing infrastructure, Stationmaster Atul Srivastava said the railway staff was doing their best to handle the situation by deploying security personnel to regulate the human traffic in a disciplined manner.

When contacted, Gajanan Mahatpurkar, senior PRO, Western Railways, said it was a catch-22 situation for the railways. "Had we not taken up repairs urgently, keeping citizens' safety in mind, we would have faced the music. Now that we have initiated repairs, people are still unhappy. If commuters want better facilities for the future, they will have to bear some hardship for the time being," he added. Additional Divisional Manager (infra, WR) Kaniha Jha said he will ensure repairs are completed at the earliest and the best solution is found to tackle the current situation.

23 No. of people who died in Elphinstone Road stampede

Also read: Year after Elphinstone stampede, Mumbai gets 30 new railway bridges

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