Sunday, May 16, 2021
HomeEditorialMumbai A City Of Tragedy; Needs Makeover

Mumbai A City Of Tragedy; Needs Makeover

Indian Railways claims safety is one of its main focuses, and while that may be the case, there are several worrying gaps that point to action not matching intent

We have such a creaking railway infrastructure; most of which have not been upgraded in the last 50 years. Same number of lines and platforms carry longer and more frequent trains. Number of passengers have gone up tremendously, but not much thought has been given towards infrastructure. RIP, all the innocent commuters who died on Thursday. There are many such tragedies waiting to happen in the local trains network in Mumbai.

Stations are antiquated and poorly maintained. Stairs are made of granite which turns dangerous and slippery when it’s wet and are most hazardous in the rainy season. People die every day keeping the spirit of dead Mumbaikar. Terror attacks, monsoon tragedies, road accidents or train accidents, they grieve on one day and the next day they are back to the basics. Mumbaikars have become immune and prepared to die with which every situation they are put in. It seems that they have lost their voice, their stand and they have become living zombies.

Seven million commuters use the Mumbai local train network every day. The Sea link was built at the cost of 16 billion Rupees (USD 250 million) and carries mostly cars and taxis. If even a part of this money had been spent on improving the railway system, majority of Mumbai city’s commuters would have been travelling safer today. As a nation we get our priorities horribly wrong. Yet we don’t mind. Twenty-two were killed and over 30 seriously injured in a rush-hour stampede in Mumbai in 2017 when a crowd tried to leave a narrow railway bridge connecting two stations after heavy rain.

My heart bleeds for everyone who has been affected. Modiji I am from Mumbai, I don’t need a bullet train here, please spend the money to upgrade the existing facilities across the country so we can prevent such uncalled tragedies in future. Human lives being treated worse than any creature. Railways and basic transport amenities are being shamelessly been neglected. No Infrastructure development. Government should wake up and realize the immediate and essential requirement of general public. Forget Bullet train; provide minimum facilities and safety requirements.

I am human, it’s not easy for me to see heart-wrenching crush of bodies on a bridge, straining against the railing. Screams were heard from those trying to escape the weight of the bodies and some were seen jumping off the bridge. The incident took place hours before Railway Minister Piyush Goyal arrived to launch new services. This railway minister, never ever bothered to take updates on local trains of Mumbai and its worst condition. He never visited Mumbai to upgrade himself on inconveniences caused to lack of groundwork. The day he was sworn in as Railway Minister, he has witnessed huge water logs in Mumbai Local train tracks, but neither the state government nor the central government ever concerned to correct the loopholes and lacunas. Visuals after the incident showed people on the ground, many not moving at all and attempts to revive them. Passengers and local people were seen carrying bodies down the bridge. Footwear scattered next to the bridge and rescuers cleared out more from the stairs. Angry commuters and residents said that the bridge was too old and narrow and not strong enough to take the busy sector. “It was a disaster waiting to happen,” remarked a local resident, saying that the bridge has been overcrowded for years and there have been multiple demands for more railway bridges for the area.

The two stations Prabhadevi and Lower Parel are used by much of Mumbai’s local train commuters as there are large number of offices in these area. Mumbaikars real issues and requirements were not met by the government. Tweets, Photoshop, Mann Ki Baat, Facebook pages, propaganda, self boasting and selfies are not going to help the aam aadmi. This government has increased the rail fare, promised safety, but did not deliver any promises. Indian railways have become the most dangerous mode of transportation under this government. They are not interested in the safely and well being of common man.

Since 2012, six of every 10-rail accident in India has happened because of mistakes by or the negligence of railway staff. In the year to 31 March 2017, 66 of 104 consequential rail accidents were attributed to failure of railway staff according to Indian Railways data. And in the three months to 30 June, eight of 11 accidents were attributed to failure of railway staff. Since 1960, Indian Railways has seen growth in infrastructure, expenditure, ridership and freight, but it has been steadfast in terms of accidents: roughly one every three days. Indian Railways claims safety is one of its main focuses, and while that may be the case, there are several worrying gaps that point to action not matching intent. For one, there’s the 16 per cent shortage in safety staff. As of 1 April, the total number of vacancies in safety staff was around 1,24,201. And this number has been growing steadily over the decades.

When it comes to a Mumbai local, then the figures are very frightening, 3,304 deaths in 2015. Nine people die on the Mumbai local train tracks every day. The causes for deaths include accidents, suicides and casualties. An average of 31 per cent victims remain “untraced”, unidentified. The Mumbai suburban railway network is spread across four major routes Western, Central, Harbour and Trans-harbour and carries more than 7.5 million passengers every day. A local train in Mumbai has the capacity to carry 1,320 people. However, during peak hours it carries no less than 4,800 people which means that 16 people jostle for space in 1 square meter of area. Overcapacity is also the reason behind deaths due to falling off trains. It’s a common sight during peak hours to see men and women hanging insecurely out of a packed compartment holding on to one pole placed at its gate. The number of deaths due to falling off overcrowded trains has shot up sharply. Majority of ‘other’ deaths are caused by suffocation and asphyxiation but these deaths go unreported.

Mumbaikars are biting the bullet everyday; one must say MUMBAI is Undying spirit…. of those who have died.


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Dr. Vaidehi
Dr. Vaidehihttp://www.vaidehisachin.com
Dr. Vaidehi is an Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and an Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. Since 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond the news (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which she caters for her sister-concern Kaizen-India Infosec Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

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