The Elphinstone stampede here in which 23 lives were lost was triggered by heavy rains as also panic caused after people mistook the cries of a vendor losing grip of his flowers for the bridge collapsing, an enquiry report has said. According to the report, the stampede was caused by heavy rains which forced people outside the ticket counters to rush to the already jammed staircase for cover.
The five-member Western Railway committee, including safety officials, constituted to present a report on the incident, collected statements of more than 30 eyewitnesses and survivors to come to this conclusion.
The stampede took place at around 10.40 am after the overbridge became overcrowded with people taking shelter from a heavy downpour.
It was said that report was prepared on the basis of certain video footages and account of 18 eye witnesses.
"Due to the incessant rain, the constant flow of the passengers further increased which resulted in overcrowding of the bridge", he said.
The probe panel has recommended that passengers be prevented from carrying heavy luggage during peak hours. The movement of commuters, mainly vendors, carrying baskets stuffed with goods during peak hours should also be restricted, it said.
Other recommendations by the panel include relocating the elevated booking office to widen the staircase, which is now located adjacent to it. Railway officials in a report said that the bridge was structurally sound with no damage.
The Railways has announced a high-level committee to inquire into the 18-month delay in issuance of Notice Inviting Tender for the Elphinstone Road overbridge, and recommend measures to ensure that such delays are minimised in the future.
The tender was incidentally floated on September 29 - the day 23 people were killed in the stampede on the existing decades-old FoB.
This committee would be headed by Shri Pratyush Sinha (Retd Chief Vigilance Commissioner) with Shri Vinayak Chatterjee, Chairman CII Economic Affairs council, and Shri Subodh Jain, (Retd Member Engineering, Railway Board) as Members and current Director Safety, Rly Board, Shri Pankaj Kumar as Member Secretary. "We have mentioned them in the three parts of the reports of the incident".