Even as the Railways is busy trying to prevent migrant labourers from walking on the tracks in the wake of the Aurangabad incident, it has emerged that at least one person dies or is seriously injured every day, on an average, on the tracks in the jurisdiction of Pune Division of Central Railways.
Earlier this month, 16 migrants, who were walking to Bhusawal from Jalna and had fallen asleep on the tracks, were run over by a goods train.
According to information from the Railway Protection Force, in the last two years and four months, 704 persons have lost their lives while crossing railway tracks and 90 have been injured. The mishaps have occurred on railway tracks between Pune and Lonavala, Hadapsar and Baramati, and Kolhapur and Pune.
In 2018, as many as 345 people lost their lives either while crossing the tracks or walking on the tracks and being run over by a train. In 2019, 245 people lost their lives on the tracks. In the first four months of 2020, 74 persons have been killed on the tracks in Pune Division.
Railway officials said accidents occur when people risk their lives by crossing the tracks rather than using pedestrian overbridges. “In station premises, it is often observed that people try to take shortcuts by crossing the tracks rather than use the overbridges. They believe that they can cross the tracks even when they see a train coming, ” said railway spokesperson Manoj Jhanvar.
Outside the station premises, people cross tracks or walk along them even when it is an offence to do so. “Under the Railways Act, anyone walking along the track or on the tracks is an offender…,” said Jhanvar.
Arun Tripathi, divisional security commissioner of RPF, claimed the problem of migrant labourers walking on the tracks has come down significantly in the last few days. “Earlier, hordes of migrant labourers were seen walking on the tracks between Pune and Daund. But now the number has come down considerably, not just in Daund but across the Pune Division,” he said.
The RPF, meanwhile, is also facing the problem of manpower shortage as some personnel have been diverted for duties at Pune station. Tripathi said they are taking the help of railway station masters, gateman and trackman. “We have also requested the city police to help us. In case we get information that people are walking on tracks in certain areas, we alert the local people,” he said.
“We have 514 personnel, which is as per the sanctioned figure. But we need at least 1,500 more personnel. We have conveyed our requirement to the Railway Ministry and the process to provide additional manpower is underway,” he said.
Tripathi said migrant labourers who are caught walking on the tracks are shifted to nearest shelter homes.
RPF has check-posts in several suburbs which are tasked to prevent anyone from walking on the tracks or straying on to the tracks. “For instance, in Pune-Lonavala section, we have check posts in Dehu Road, Pimpri-Chinchwad and other suburbs along the route,” Tripathi said.
Railway officials said in the current circumstance, they have appealed to people not to use railway tracks as train services are underway. “Though long-distance trains are not operating, goods trains, parcel trains and Shramik special trains are being operated. People are under the impression that trains are not operational and therefore they are using railway tracks to reach their destinations. This is illegal and poses a risk to the lives of those using the tracks,” said Jhanvar.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines