Railways

Mumbai’s Elphinstone bridge widening didn’t need any clearance

DELHI: It was sheer laxity on part of the local railway administration in executing the project for widening of rail foot-over-bridge at Elphinstone station sanctioned in 2016, which led to the death of 23 people in Mumbai.

There was no reason why a small project costing just about Rs 12 crore sanctioned in the 2016-17 budget could not be implemented in 18 months, that too when Suresh Prabhu as railway minister had delegated the powers to general managers to take up such projects, reports The Economic Times.

After the accident, Prabhu issued a statement claiming that he during his tenure had sanctioned a wider foot-overbridge (FOB) at Elphinstone Road station in 2015. The tender was not issued on account of the railway administration’s careless attitude.

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However, his comment also raised the disturbing question whether there was any oversight mechanism in place to ensure that officials implemented decisions in an accountable manner. With GMs empowered to implement projects up to Rs 25 crore, Prabhu’s comments also drew attention to criticism that he, who had been a senior cabinet minister till recently, had been unable to get the rail bureaucracy to function efficiently.

“The concerned GM was not even supposed to get the approval of railway board of detailed estimates for this project,” said a railway official.

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