The Ministry of Railways today said that its inquiry into the Elphinstone stamped, that killed nearly two dozen people three months ago, was not caused by negligence or the failure by any railway official to do his duty.
“As per the departmental enquiry headed by Chief Safety Officer/Western Railway, no Railway official(s) have been found responsible for the incident,” the ministry said.
Instead, the blame was put on commuters and rain.
“As per the findings of the enquiry, the tragedy was possibly triggered due to sudden downpour of heavy rains and accumulation of commuters on the Foot Over Bridge and staircase.
“The situation got further aggravated when one bundle of flower of a vendor dropped followed by someone shouting that “Majha phool padla” and some commuter mistook the word “phool” for “pull”. This may have possibly triggered panic and led to stampede.”
The tragedy, several years in the making, had prompted calls for a thorough inquiry to find out why the overbridge was not expanded on time and why hundreds of commuters were forced every day to use an overbridge that was meant to accommodate only a couple of dozen commuters.
Elphinstone station — once a small get-off point next to Dadar — became a major choking point on the suburban rail system of Mumbai after several large office complexes, including the Indiabulls Financial Center, came up in the area.
However, even as the number of passengers increased several times in a matter of three to four years, no efforts were made to expand the passenger carrying capacity of the railway station.
At the time, the government had promised to look into reasons for why there was a delay in expanding the local infrastructure and promised action.
“Railway Board has decided to constitute a high-level expert committee to inquire into the reasons for delay in the whole process and suggest ways and means to ensure that such delays can be minimised in future,” Anil Saxena, a spokesperson for the ministry of railways had said in October after allegations that there were inordinate delays in awarding contracts for expanding the overbridge.