We seem to be doing something terribly wrong…and over and over again. Mumbai’s lifeline that transports thousands of commuters daily killed 36,152 persons between 2002 and Nov 2011. We’re talking an average of 3,500 persons dying every year and ten persons meeting their end on the tracks every day.

The details availed by RTI activist Chetan Kothari from the Government Railway Police revealed that people die on tracks every year in mishaps that range from falling in the gap between the train and the railway station; dashing into a pole, while crossing lines and falling down from running trains.

The number of injured for the period is 36,688.

There are a higher number of deaths caused by falls from moving trains and getting hit while crossing railway lines than those caused by dashing against railway poles and falling within platform gaps.

Activist Samir Zaveri, who himself lost his two legs in a train accident two decades ago, had made a Public Interest Litigation approached the Bombay High Court for better medical facilities at stations forced railways to put ambulances at stations and upgrade medical facilities at stations following court orders. The railways have also set up a medical room at Dadar to give first aid to injured commuters.

Help Not At Hand

Activists across the city have been vying to get ambulances and medical facilities parked at railway stations but the task is far from being done. CST, on its part, has a spot earmarked for an Ambulance at the juncture of its mainline and local services. However, the spot is regularly used to park VIP vehicles of either railway officials or politicians but an ambulance. In the absence of an ambulance in place, it’s a virtual mess for commuters should an accident occur.

An RTI query in this regard could well be in place to figure the capacity and periodicity of ambulances being kept in waiting and in alert at railway stations.

There is a definite need to build enough Foot Over Bridges at stations and more manned railway crossings which lead to awry commuter flow within stations.

Apparently, an application revealed that Kurla and Kalyan on the central route and the stretch between Jogeshwari and Borivali on the Western route are the deadliest zones.

In information sought by Thane district rail passengers’ association president Omprakash Sharma, between January 2009 and August 2011, CR had a fairly high accident rate with 9,661 deaths and 10,981 being injured in rail mishaps on the line. Meanwhile, 1,853 died and 4,325 were injured on the western line in the same period.

Robbed Of Right

Along the Western Railway line, accident spots have remained more or less the same in the last three years, with Bandra and Andheri stations witnessing the highest number of mishaps.

There is another issue though. The police upon finding a bleeding person, records a panchnama of injury. The commuter is usually robbed of his wallet, chain and watch by local goons and the police declare that he is travelling without a ticket, depriving him of any compensation from the tribunal.

There is a near-zero rehabilitation policy for the families of those who have died or been rendered handicapped due to the poor safety standards of the railways. Very often, the victim is the breadwinner and the rail authorities contest thecompensation to be awarded to the family. Rail commuters’ association representatives maintain that it would be worthwhile if the railways award contracts for setting up book stalls or canteens to the next of kin of those who have died due to the negligence of the railways.

Level Mishaps

146 lives in 2006-07 / 148 in 2007-08 / 129 in 2008-09 / 170 in 2009-10 / 124 in 2010-11.

No of people killed in train mishaps

208 registered deaths in 2006-07 / 191 registered deaths in 2007-08 / 209 registered deaths in 2008-09 / 238 registered deaths in 2009-10 / 374 registered deaths in 2010-11.

In the last five years, the total number of persons injured in train accidents was 2,124, out of which, 469 were injured in 2010-11. The number of injured was 402 in 2006-07, 412 in 2007-08, 444 in 2008-09 and 397 in 2009-10

(RTI - Om Prakash Sharma)

‘Manned’ Need

“The number of train accidents and the resulting loss of human lives are on the rise, as revealed by the Railway Board figures. The railway authorities should take precautionary measures, especially at the unmanned level crossings, so precious human lives are not lost,” offered Mr Sharma.

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