The tragic death of 16 persons including 14 schoolchildren at Masaipet unmanned level crossing has triggered fear psychosis among people across Telangana.
Masaipet is not the only incident of its kind that has occurred in the new State. One of the worst accidents took place in May 1994 at the Yedullagudem unmanned railway crossing in Nalgonda in which as many as 36 persons from Masidugudem village were killed when Narayanadri Express rammed into a tractor.
Nizamabad too had its share of such tragedies at an unmanned gate near Gundaram. Six years ago, four persons travelling in a car were knocked down by a speeding train while two villagers sitting on a bullock cart were mowed down in another incident.
People living in villages around the railway crossings are a worried lot. Seventeen cattle-heads were crushed to death at an unmanned level crossing in Talamadugu mandal on the Nanded-Adilabad line. In Adilabad town, the level crossing at Mahalaxmiwada and Tatiguda is considered dangerous, and has prompted SHG members to stage a dharna for a foot overbridge. Other crossings near Guda, Gimma in Jainad mandal and Jhari, Umram and Kosai need attention.
As many as 200 trains travel on the Chennai-New Delhi Grand Trunk and Bangalore-Hyderabad-New Delhi route which has 46 railway crossings but are manned. Railways have set up interlocking system at manned and unmanned level crossings between Kazipet-Vijayawada-Bellampalli and other route towards Secunderabad.
Works on ROBs and RUBs at Station Ghanpur, Mahabubabad and Warangal towns are going on at snail’s pace. A resident of Kazipet, Md Razack, said that the only solution was to construct ROB which would avoid traffic congestion and prevent people from sneaking under the gates.
The stretch between Karimnagar and Jagtial in Karimnagar district too poses a threat with few passenger trains but continuous movement of goods trains carrying granite. Paucity of staff at manned crossings frightens locals. There are at least half a dozen unmanned crossings.
Of the 40 railway gates in Nizamabad district, at least a dozen unmanned crossings are situated on the Nizamabad-Bodhan, Nizamabad-Dichpally, Indalwai-Sirnapalli, Uppalwai-Kamareddy, Talamadla-Kamareddy and Bhikanoor-Talamadla stations.
Potential man-made disasters are lurking around several unmanned crossings in Khammam. There are around 34 such crossings along the Pocharam-Manuguru stretch. Sources said that as many as five unmanned level crossings are in Karepalli mandal alone where a number of freight trains carrying coal wagons pass through.
The unmanned level crossings at Ballunagar Tanda, Pocharam, Lakshmipuram and other villages continue to pose grave threat. Our consistent pleas to the authorities concerned to erect a gate and post a gatekeeper at the unmanned level crossing at Ballunagar fell on deaf ears, laments Dharavath Biksham of Ballunagar.
In Medak district, which witnessed the worst ever accident yesterday, there are 11 such unmanned crossings. Secunderabad-Bidar and Secunderabad-Nizamabad-Nanded line traverse through a good part of the district.
Out of 80 level crossings in Nalgonda, 30 are not manned. The Secunderabad-Bhongir-Kazipet and Secunderabad-Nalgonda-Nadikudi stretches see over two dozen trains passing by daily.
S. Linga Swamy, a resident of Chervupally in the district, recalls at least two incidents wherein four persons were killed. Various organisations have staged demonstrations across the district demanding that the Railway Department install crossings at all the unmanned crossings to avoid a repetition of the incidents.
(With inputs by P. Ram Mohan (Nizamabad), S. Harpal Singh (Adilabad), R. Avadhani (Sangareddy), G. Srinivasa Rao (Warangal), P. Sridhar (Khammam), T. Karnakar Reddy (Nalgonda) and K. M. Dayashankar (Karimnagar)