The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has slammed the Railways for too many deaths on the Mumbai suburban railways, noting as many as 17,638 deaths in five years between January 2010 and December 2014, constituting 52.74% of the total 33,445 deaths on the suburban sections across the country.
In a report on the audit of the suburban train services in Indian Railways tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, the CAG said 59% of the deaths were due to line crossing or trespassing while 15% were due to falling from running trains. Here also, as many as 4002 or 82% of the total 4,885 deaths due to fall from the trains occurred in Mumbai suburban section only.
Noting that Indian Railways in its citizen’s charter made a commitment to provide safe and dependable train services to the passengers, the CAG said a report submitted to then Railways Minister in February 2012 stated that out of 15,000 deaths every year on the railway system, about 6,000 deaths are on the Mumbai suburban system only.
Such large number of deaths were mainly attributed to the unlawful trespassing “on account of lack of barricading, fencing, inadequate number of pedestrian overbridges and reluctance to replace the pedestrian level crossings with footover bridges,” the report said.
The CAG noted that the fencing between tracks was not provided at seven suburban stations of Central Railways while three stations of Dombivali, Kalva and Badlapur had only partial fencing. In Western Railway, the fencing between tracks within the station premises to prevent trespassing had not been provided at Mahim, Virar, Kelve Road, Palghar, Boisar and Dahanu Road stations.
The highest 1,117 deaths due to trespassing in five years up to end of 2014 were due to trespassing on Jogeshwari-Dahisar section and 849 deaths on Mira Road-Virar section. The CAG also noted that scrutiny of records revealed vast difference between the number of deaths reported in the Annual Statistical Statement of the Indian Railways and the figures reported by the Government Railway Police (GRP). The Railways” figures were hardly 2% of the GRP figures.
The CAG also referred to a Bombay High Court direction to the Railways on a PIL in November 2014 to take preventive measures to check death of passengers on tracks on the Mumbai suburban section and make available ambulances as also emergency medical rooms at all Mumbai suburban stations stations, similar to the “Trauma Care Centre” already set up at Dadar in March 2011.
While the Railway administration agreed to set up the emergency medical rooms on 15 suburban stations in Mumbai in December 2014, scrutiny of 37 selected stations (15 on Central Railway and 22 on Western Railway) shows that no such room has been provided at any station except Dadar and the ambulance services were available only at 10 stations. The Central Railway had decided in December 2014 to set up the emergency medical rooms at eight suburban stations on main and harbour lines within six months, but the CAG found none set up till September 2015.
Referring to a Railway Board decision in November 2002 to create a “safety zone” by removing encroachments along the track for areas coming under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project by not allowing any within 10 metres, the CAG found large number of locations on the suburban sections still having huts encroaching upon the railway land. They were close to the running lines or along the railway track, hampering smooth operation of services due to speed restriction, accumulation of garbage and drainage problems.