Travelling on Mumbai's suburban railway tracks is as good as inviting death. A high-level safety committee of the Indian Railways led by noted scientist Dr Anil Kakodkar says the number of casualties on railway tracks indicates that the situation is grim and needs urgent attention.
The report said an estimated 15,000 people die on railway tracks every year because of trespassing. Of this, 6,000 deaths or 40% of the casualties take place on Mumbai's suburban railway network. Nearly 40,000 people died and an equal number of people were injured on the city's railway tracks between 2002 and 2011, a recent RTI query revealed.
Dr Kakodkar, who submitted the report to railway minister Dinesh Trivedi on Friday, has suggested that a high-level task force be formed to address the problem.
"Reluctance of the Indian Railways to own up to the casualties, which do not fall under the purview of accidents, but are nevertheless accidents on account of trains, can by no means be ignored. No civilised society can accept such a massacre on its railway system," the committee said.
It said inadequacies in providing proper facilities resulted in so many deaths. "We feel the grim situation on Mumbai's suburban system has to be tackled on a war-footing. Here, trespassing occurs because of lack of barricading, fencing, lack of adequate number of pedestrian over-bridges and lack of facilities such as sufficient number of platforms, escalators, elevators for the disabled apart from insufficient train services. These are the main reasons for the heavy human death toll," the report said.
"This is clearly the responsibility of the railways. They cannot give an excuse that urban transport is not their responsibility. The committee strongly recommends forming a high-level task force involving the state government, zonal passenger body and NGOs to recommend constructive measures," the report said. The national committee was constituted in September 2011.