Shocking as it may seem,as many as 20 persons die on railway tracks in the city every month. Several of them jump in front of an approaching trains,while others lose their lives to the mindless act of crossing the tracks,thinking nothing will happen!
Deaths on tracks have seen a steady rise over the years.
In 2008-09,there had been 262 accidental deaths in the city. The number has shot up to 380 in 2012-13. Activists allege that apart from holding awareness campaigns,the railway administration has done little to prevent such deaths.
Data provided by Railway Protection Force show that 106 people died on the tracks this year 23 in January,26 in February,23 in March,10 in April and 24 in May.
According to officials,50 per cent of the victims were trespassers,who died while trying to take a short-cut,the remaining 50 per cent committed suicide.
According to Divisional Railway Manager Vishal Agarwal,most accidental deaths take place in three places Pimpri,Chinchwad and Akurdi.
Slums are located near the railway tracks in these places. Instead of using the over-bridge,people often cross the tracks to reach the market that are usually located on the other side of the tracks. Often youngsters,who cross the railway lines carelessly with earphones plugged in,end up under the wheels, said Agarwal while interacting with The Indian Express staff during an Idea Exchange.
Apart from trespassers,a good number of these incidents are suicides. Almost 50 per cent of the deaths are actually suicides, he said.
So as to prevent such deaths,Agarwal said,the railway administration has taken up several awareness campaigns and also passed specific directives to the rail drivers. We have instructed the drivers to be very alert. They have been asked to continuously honk and whistle,while arriving at and leaving a station as well as while passing a rail crossing, said Agarwal.
However,these efforts are clearly falling short,as the number of accidental deaths on railway tracks are increasing with every passing year. In 2009-10,221 deaths were registered with the rail authorities. The number rose to 267 in 2010-11. It further rose to 299 in 2011-12 and in 2012-13 to a whopping 380.
According to railway officials,routine patrolling are undertaken by the railway police to stop trespassers. In fact,many have been punished,they said. To curb the tendency to trespass,we catch offenders and penalise them. As many as 6,098 persons were caught and produced in a judicial magistrates court in 2012. they have been duly penalised. The number in 2013 is 2,160 (so far), said an official.
Harsha Shah of Railway Pravasi Group said that while there is no way to stop those who want to commit suicide,trespassing can be checked by way of imposing heavy penalty,as high as Rs 10,000 and a years imprisonment.