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Don’t change ministers, change railways, Congress tells Modi 

New Delhi, Sep 29 (IANS) Criticising the railways for “criminal negligence” resulting in the death of at least 22 persons in a foot overbridge stampede in Mumbai, the Congress on Friday advised Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “change the raliways face and not ministers”.

“We would like to tell the Prime Minister that you can’t placate the public by just changing railway ministers. If you have to change anything, change the railways’ face,” Congress Spokesperson and Lok Sabha MP Sushmita Dev said here.

“This is a huge dereliction of duty by the Prime Minister,” she added.

After a series of rail accidents, Modi shifted Suresh Prabhu out of the Railway Ministry in a Cabinet reshuffle earlier this month and elevated Piyush Goyal as the new Railway Minister. 

Dev said while the railways had hiked the cost of platform ticket from Rs 10 to Rs 20 in view of festival rush, it had not cared to take measures to increase passenger safety.

At least 22 commuters were killed and many more injured in a stampede on a narrow railway foot overbridge connecting the Parel-Elphinstone Road stations of Western Railway in Mumbai on Friday morning. The death count is feared to go up.

“Time and again, the commuters have complained about the safety of this foot overbridge. Even the Central Railway in 2015 had accepted that this heritage bridge linking Parel and Elphinstone Road stations was ‘structurally weak’ and had decided to direct the footfall to the other bridge that connects Dadar to Parel by extending it to the eastern end of Parel as a temporary measure,” Dev said.

“But due to slow progress of work and criminal negligence of the railway authorities, no concrete action was taken,” she added.

The Congress demanded a judicial inquiry into the incident and asked the government to raise the compensation amount to “at least Rs 50 lakh” from Rs 5 lakh announced by the government.

“There are 1.42 lakh vacant posts in the railway safety department. The next of kin of railway accident victims should be given those jobs, so that their kitchens keep running,” Dev said.

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