The death of three women after they were being run over by an express train near Malad raises question about the safety of contractual labours of Indian railways. Since last seven years, 44 railway workers, that included contractual labours, have lost their lives on railway tracks in the Mumbai division. More than 12 gangmen have died while performing track maintenance work since past three years. Often railways fail to provide compensations to the kin of these deceased workers as they have to undergo huge hardships. The suburban section of the Mumbai division is already congested due to the introduction of more trains by railways. Therefore railways are unable to carry out proper maintenance work on regular working days. Often gangmen risk their lives while carrying out track maintenance work as they have to concentrate on their work and also keep an eye on running trains. An official has demanded that flagman must be posted on both sides of the track to keep watch on trains for ensuring safety of gangmen.
Navnath Laxman Khartade, an activist said, “Railways can’t make discrimination between contractual and permanent employees as these women had died while performing their duties. Thus injustice is being meted against them. The railways must pay compensation to them as they were doing their work. Activists and media should come forward to deliver justice them.”
Gajanan Kirtikar, Shiv Sena MP and member of Railway Board said, “Railways only hire contractual workers but fail to provide them adequate compensation after the occurrence of any accident. Even medical benefits are being denied to contractual workers by railways. I will look into this matter and will approach railways to provide compensation to them.”
Bhai Jagtap, Congress MLA said, “The government must provide compensation to kin of deceased workers irrespective of whether they are contractual or permanent employees. When Lalu Prasad Yadav was the railway minister he had announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the families of deceased workers. The compensation amount should be increased to Rs 25 lakh now.”
J R Bhosale, General Secretary of Western Railway Employees’ Union said, “Being a principle employer, Western Railways must not shirk their responsibilities. Railways must provide compensation to the families of deceased workers.”
Kirit Somaiya, BJP MP and Chairman of labour committee said, “Railways must provide compensation to the families of deceased workers. I am overseeing this issue and we will ensure that justice is being provided to them.”