Heavy crowd led to collapse of Rlys’ plan

On Monday, the Railways had to run 43 special trains to clear the huge crowd

Due to Lack of enough trains, the Railways' elaborate plan to channelise the crowds of pilgrims coming from Sangam to Allahabad railway station went completely awry on Sunday evening, claiming 36 lives.

The stampede took place on the day of Mauni Amavasya when, as estimated, around 3 crore people — the maximum on any single day — had come to take a dip at Sangam during the ongoing Kumbh Mela of 2013.

An inquiry has been set up by the state government under the chairmanship of Board of Revenue Chairperson Jagan Mathews, which will establish the sequence of events leading to the tragedy and the reasons behind it. The Railways will conduct a separate inquiry.

Before the Kumbh Mela began, the Railways had claimed that it had devised a plan using colour codes — red, blue, green and yellow — to channelise passengers coming from Sangam in four sheds, depending on their destination. These sheds have been raised outside platform no.1 of the railway station.

On Sunday, however, in the absence of enough trains, the passengers filled up every possible space in the station, leading to a situation where the movement of the crowd stopped almost completely. On Monday, the railways had to run 43 special trains to clear the huge crowd. "By 6.30 pm, all the foot-over-bridges (FOBs) were chocked. The travellers' sheds installed at the entry of the station were also chock-a-block and people were waiting for their trains at the platforms also," said a railway official.

At one point, around 5 pm, the authorities also reportedly asked the police personnel on duty to stop more people from coming into the station and, instead, advise them to take buses. However, that did not change the situation much. The breakdown of the colour-coded arrangement created a situation where "there was little idea about which passenger on which platform wanted to go where," said an official.

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