AS MANY as 350 people have died while trying to cross the railway track in the Pune Railway Division between January and December 2016, officials said. Although the railway officials have carried out several campaigns and awareness drives to make sure that those staying in the vicinity of the railway tracks use foot-over bridges (FoB) to cross the tracks instead of risking their lives, people are often seen not following the rules.
However, on the brighter side, the annual run over death number has come down by a 100 as the same number for 2015 was 450, railway officials said. According to the officials, the accidental deaths on tracks saw a steady rise since 2009 when 221 individuals lost their lives. In the next year (2010), the number went up to 267 and then touching 299 the next year. In 2012, it rose by a leap to 350. It continued to swell until it reached 450 in 2015.
“Most of the 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 train,” a senior official with the Pune Division of Indian Railway said.
They also said that most of these victims are trespassers, who died while trying to take a short-cut, the remaining 50 per cent committed suicide. According to officials, besides running awareness campaigns to avoid runovers, they also catch and penalise the offenders who try to cross the track illegally. “Every year, about 5,000 to 6,000 people are caught and produced in a judicial magistrate’s court,” said the 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 year’s imprisonment. “The present penalty is very less hence, people are not afraid of being caught crossing the tracks,” said Shah.