According to railway police statistics, about 3,600 people die and over 4,000 are injured every year. Activists blame overcrowding and the lackadaisical attitude of railway authorities for the mishaps.
Monika More (16) has not yet come to terms with living her life without arms. A week after she fell off a moving train at Ghatkopar, an eastern suburb, and lost her arms, she is recuperating at the KEM hospital.
On Friday, she was in more pain than the day before. She smiled when she saw people around her and managed to nod to attempts by family to cheer her. “Monika’s teacher had come to see her and told her not to worry about her exams. She is on a long vacation now,” her cousin joked. Monica smiled.
Even as help was pouring in for Monica through the week, 31-year-old electrician Tanvir Shaikh lost both legs when he slipped through the gap between the platform and a coach at Kurla station on Wednesday evening.
The two incidents led the Bombay High Court on Friday to take suo-moto cognizance of media reports. The division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M. S. Sanklecha has asked the Ministry of Railways, Western Railways, Central Railways and Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) to file their replies on recent accidents.
The next hearing will be held on February 13.
Mumbai’s suburban tracks have not been alien to accidents. According to railway police statistics, about 3,600 people die and over 4,000 are injured every year. Activists blame overcrowding and the lackadaisical attitude of railway authorities for the mishaps.
“A train has the capacity of carrying 1,500 passengers. However, it actually carries 8,500. Moreover, there is a failure to provide first aid and a delay in taking injured commuters to hospitals. Since ambulances are not available at railway stations, many commuters bleed to death,” said Samir Zaveri. Zaveri lost both is legs at the age of 16, when a local train hit him near Borivali. He has now dedicated his life to improving the railway services by using RTI and PILs to expose the system.
In the last 10 years around 30,000 were killed and around 35,000 injured in Mumbai train accidents.
Taking view of the railway accidents, The Bombay High Court in 2004 ordered the railways to shift accident victims to the nearest private or government hospital. If a government hospital was not found in a radius of five kilometres, the victim was to be admitted to a private hospital with the railways bearing the cost of the treatment.
In More’s case, she was rushed to hospital by two commuters in an auto rickshaw. Railway authorities on their part feel that they are not in a position to provide a fleet of ambulances. “There are 76 suburban stations. At the moment, we have ambulances parked at seven stations only. We have appealed to NGOs and the state government to provide more ambulances,” said Atul Rane, Chief Public Relations Officer, Central Railway.
Mr Rane said that the railway will survey all the stations in 15 days to fill gaps between the platform and footboard. It was the gap that cost both the victims their limbs. “We will also raise the height of the platforms where we find that the height is not upto 840 mm, the maximum limit,” said Mr Rane.
Meanwhile, the State government has announced Rs 2 lakh compensation for the victim from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund for medical treatment.