Union railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge on Friday announced a compensation of Rs5 lakh for collegian Monika More who lost her arms in an accident at Ghatkopar station on January 11.
Kharge, however, stressed during his public address as well his press interaction that the compensation was on humanitarian grounds and a ‘special case’ and thereby made it clear that it should not be considered the norm. Kharge had met Monika’s father Ashok at Sahyadri on Thursday evening.
Kharge was speaking at a function held at Kurla Terminus to flag off four long-distance trains and also inaugurate the conversion of CR’s electrical systems from 1,500 Volt Direct Current to 25,000 Alternating Current between Kalyan and Thane and on the 5th and 6th lines between Thane and Kurla Terminus.
The debate going on in the city on the gap between platforms and the floor of the train took centre stage at the function with MP Eknath Gaikwad and state textile and minorities minister Naseem Khan asking the railways to work towards reducing the gap.
Kharge said that 74 platforms, where the gap seems to be widest, would be resurfaced and raised in the next few years. “It will cost something between Rs60-70 crore and I hope the work will be completed in the next three years. I have asked the railway officials to see if they can cut expenditure on certain aspects of passenger amenities and divert the money for raising the platform height,” said Kharge.
Privately, officials however conceded it is an uphill task since the amount set out for passenger amenities is insufficient. dna had earlier reported that the money allocated for passenger amenities last year for CR’s suburban system was a paltry Rs10 crore and for WR it was around Rs16 crore. In fact, both railway zones paid out more compensation to railway accident victims — Rs85 crore during the past two years — than what they spent on passenger amenities like raising platform heights, building foot over bridges, toilets and ticket windows.
Kharge told the gathering that the railways would work towards adding more trains on the Mumbai-Kolhapur route. He, however, avoided any mention of the demand made by Gaikwad during the latter’s speech that slum dwellers living along railway tracks should be rehabilitated under a partnership scheme between the state government and the railways.