Meet hero Chandrashekhar Sawant, whose alertness helped avert major tragedy in Mumbai

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The incessant rains have once again wreaked havoc in the business capital of India with the life coming to a grinding halt for the city’s residents for the second time in less than a month. What added to their woes was the collapse of a section of a foot overbridge over the Western Railway tracks at Andheri even as many areas of the city remained flooded, playing havoc with road and rail traffic.

Chandrashekhar Sawant

Amidst prevailing chaos, one Mumbai man is now being hailed by everyone for his heroic efforts that potentially helped avert a major tragedy. Chandrashekhar Sawant, the alert motorman of a Churchgate-Dahanu train, was barely 55 metres away from the bridge when it collapsed. He reacted with lightening speed and immediately applied emergency brakes. Had he not do so, this would have resulted in scores of deaths.

Recognising his heroic efforts, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal announced an immediate reward of Rs 5 lakh. Speaking to reporters, Goyal said that Sawant will be honoured by his ministry later. The minister also tweeted praising Sawant’s efforts, “Showing his alertness and stopping the train in time to avert a big tragedy, motorman Chandrashekhar Sawant will be given a cash reward of Rs 5 lakh. His alertness helped avert a major tragedy.”

Part of Road Over Bridge has fallen on tracks near Andheri Station impacting rail traffic. Directed officials to speed up repair work and rapidly restore traffic in close coordination with other departments. I have also ordered an enquiry by Commissioner of Rail Safety.

Sawant later told reporters, “I immediately applied emergency brakes and the train stopped a few metres from the spot where the bridge collapsed. The collapse was accompanied by a big thud sound of the falling debris.”

Around 7.30 a.m. – at the height of morning peak hours, Mumbai commuters were left shocked when a portion of the Gokhale Bridge, connecting the east-west over the Andheri station, suddenly caved in trapping at least five persons, and paralysing the suburban and long-distance train services on the Western Railways.

Coming nine months after the Elphinstone Road FOB crash and stampede that left 23 commuters dead, Tuesday’s incident instilled fear among the commuters, especially since at least three jam-packed locals had passed seconds before the bridge crash.

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