The tender inviting bids to construct a new foot overbridge at Elphinstone Road station was put out on the same day that 23 people died in a stampede on the current structure, The Indian Express reported on Sunday. Thirty-eight people were injured in the accident on a foot overbridge between Mumbai’s Elphinstone Road and Parel railway stations.
Former Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu had approved the proposal for a new bridge in April 2015. The cost estimates were confirmed by the finance department on August 22, and uploaded online on September 29. The new foot overbridge is expected to be 12 metres wide.
Railway officials, however, said it was “mere coincidence” that the tender was out on the day of the accident. “Making of a tender, finalising its commercial aspects and floating it online is a continuous process,” Ravinder Bhaker, Chief Public Relations Officer of Western Railways, said. He added that the tender was ready and had been given permission by September 22 but was put out on the second half of September 29.
A senior Western Railways official told The Indian Express that the tender may have been delayed because “projects worth small amounts often get sidelined”. The funds of such projects are usually diverted to major, more visible projects, he said.
Student petitions against bullet train
Meanwhile, a Class 12 student from Mumbai, Shreya Chavan, filed a petition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday evening saying Mumbai does not need bullet trains, but instead better railways. By Sunday morning, it had more than 6,000 signatures. The bullet train project aims to connect Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
Chavan told The Indian Express that the stampede, as well as a friend’s death about ten days ago, had made her file this petition. A 17-year-old student had died after falling off the train on September 20. “If students are not able to travel to college by trains then what is the point of a bullet train,” Chavan asked.