<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Repeated warnings from commuters and even parliamentarians about an impending disaster at Elphinstone Road station seem to have fallen on deaf ears. Had the Railways acted on the representations from four city MPs on the need to expand Foot-Over-Bridges (FOBs), the risk posed to the lives of commuters could have been mitigated.Between 2014 and 2017, MPs Arvind Sawant, Rahul Shewale and Gajanan Kirtikar from Shiv Sena, and BJP MP Kirit Somaiya had sent at least 20 letters, about five each, to the Union Railway ministry highlighting the risk posed by the narrow FOB at Elphinstone Road. The MPs sought urgent allocation of funds for expansion of the FOB, and also demanded that 10 other FOBs and Road-Over-Bridges (ROBs) on Central and Western Railway be widened.Kirtikar, who is a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways, told DNA, “The FOBs at Mumbai railway stations are nine-meters wide; they should actually be 12 meters in width.”Kirtikar has also been consistently demanding a regular audit of both FOBs and ROBs.Former railway minister Suresh Prabhu, in his reply to the Mps, had said that expansion of the FOB at Elphinstone Road station was under the Railway ministry’s consideration.In in his reply to Sawant dated February 20, 2016, Prabhu wrote, “It is always an endeavour to agree to as many requests as possible. However, sometimes due to the paucity of finances, operational constraints or other compelling circumstances, agreeing to the request may not be possible.”Prabhu further wrote, “It has been one of the toughest years for the Indian Railways due to adverse effects of the global slowdown. Despite these challenging times, the suggestions to widen the foot-over-bridge at Elphinstone Road station is under positive consideration.”Repeated demands for an upgrade of infrastructure at Elphinstone Road and Parel stations by passenger associations have also been ignored. The issue has been discussed in at least a dozen meetings of the Divisional as well as Suburban Rail Users Consultative Committees. “We have reminded the rail authorities to take up improvement of these stations and their FOBs more than 12-15 times. We have also asked about the slow progress on the proposed Parel terminus. At least now, the rail authorities should wake up,” said Kailash Verma, member, Divisional Rail Users Consultative Committee.Anant Shirgaonkar, a resident of Shanti Niwas in Elphinstone, has also been writing to the railways since 2012 about the overcrowding at Elphinstone and Parel bridge. “Just yesterday, I was travelling from Parel to my office in Rabale and a woman fell on the staircase due to the rush. The situation is scary in peak hours,” says Shirgaonkar.Bandish Satra, a railway commuter, had tweeted to Prabhu tagging his Twitter handle in February 2017 seeking his intervention on getting a new FOB constructed. He also sent three reminders, but to no avail. “The mishap today is really unfortunate. I am shocked that the authorities did not take the warning seriously, despite several people raising issues,” said Satra.Another Mumbaikar Bilal Motorwala had also tweeted in August 2016 to Prabhu and other departments highlighting the risk at the FOB, but received no response.(with inputs from Ankita Bhatkhande and Vallabh Ozarkar)

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Rlys sat on files for years